tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:/feeds/all Flying Solo 2014-09-02T07:30:00+10:00 tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14794 2014-09-02T07:30:00+10:00 2014-09-02T10:01:32+10:00 Challenge: Design YOUR ideal working week! <p>Each year or so I embark on a lifestyle or productivity challenge. This time I’ll attempt to combine several life hacks into one golden week. I invite you to join me.</p><p>In the past, I’ve attempted to go from <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">night owl to early bird in seven days</a>, battled <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">email addiction</a>, road-tested <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/setting-business-goals/smart-goal-setting-making-new-week-resolutions" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/setting-business-goals/smart-goal-setting-making-new-week-resolutions">new week</a> and <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/new-year-s-resolutions-for-micro-business-owners" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/new-year-s-resolutions-for-micro-business-owners">new year’s resolutions</a>, <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/time-management-tips/being-accountable-setting-deadlines" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/time-management-tips/being-accountable-setting-deadlines">whipped up deadlines</a> and <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/time-management-tips/how-to-stop-procrastination" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/time-management-tips/how-to-stop-procrastination">eaten frogs</a> – all with varying degrees of success and longevity.</p> <p>So, regardless of past setbacks, it’s time to up the ante and combine some of the best lifestyle and productivity tips into one perfect storm of a week, starting <strong>next Sunday 7 September</strong>!</p> <p>For me, I’m setting seven goals around my priorities of health, family, friends and work.</p> <h2>My daily steps for an ideal week:</h2> <ol> <li><strong>Exercise</strong> – 45-minutes intensive exercise per day</li> <li><strong>Nutrition</strong> – no alcohol, no junk food and a maximum of two coffees a day</li> <li><strong>Sleep</strong> – tucked in by 11pm, feet on the floor by 6am</li> <li><strong>Organisation</strong> – write my to-do list and plan my work day the night before</li> <li><strong>Productivity</strong> – turn off email for at least three hours per day to ‘<a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/time-management-tips/how-to-stop-procrastination" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/time-management-tips/how-to-stop-procrastination">eat that frog</a>’</li> <li><strong>Focus</strong> – stop multitasking and work in blocks using the <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/search?page=1&amp;q=pomodoro+technique&amp;s=site" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/search?page=1&amp;q=pomodoro+technique&amp;s=site">pomodoro technique</a></li> <li><strong>Family/friends</strong> – shut down the computer from 6pm to socialise, schedule three lunch/coffee dates with Fel </li> </ol> <p>I’m going to report back on these goals each day (in the article comments and in the <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/what-ill-do/31743-challenge-design-your-ideal-working-week.html" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/what-ill-do/31743-challenge-design-your-ideal-working-week.html" target="_blank">forums</a>) with a tick or a cross for each.</p> <h2>Can I tempt you to join in?</h2> <p>If so, based on your own priorities, work and lifestyle, the first step is to map out YOUR ideal week as best you can. That might simply be a list of one or two daily goals, or a fully-fledged timetable. Everyone’s ideal week will look different.</p> <h2>Here’s how it works:</h2> <ol> <li><strong>Add a comment below now to let us know you’re up for the challenge! </strong></li> <li><strong>Report back on your progress next week in the comments or <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/what-ill-do/31743-challenge-design-your-ideal-working-week.html" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/what-ill-do/31743-challenge-design-your-ideal-working-week.html">forums</a></strong></li> </ol> <p>If you commit to reporting back online, I guarantee you’ll find there’s nothing like public accountability to get you moving at 6am! Of course, you don’t need to share your specific goals if you prefer not to.</p> <p>Whether this exercise leads to seven days of zen-like calm, brutal discipline and unbridled productivity, or a week of failure, fatigue and humiliation, time will tell.</p> <p>I hope to ‘see’ some brave souls back here next week!</p> <p>Until then, there’s still time to shovel down final chips and beer!</p> <p><strong><em>Are you up for the challenge? Let me know in the comments!</em></strong></p><p><strong><em><br /></em></strong></p> Peter Crocker tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14796 2014-08-31T07:30:00+10:00 2014-08-27T11:34:18+10:00 Using stories to attract business <p>Storytelling is a great technique to use in presentations and training, but how does it help grow your business? Podcast guest, Andrew Griffiths gives us the low down.</p><p>To access all Flying Solo podcasts visit&nbsp;<a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/podcast" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/podcast" target="_blank">http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/podcast</a></p> FlyingSolo tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14745 2014-08-30T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-15T13:23:55+10:00 Nine tips to reduce your fear of hiring <p>If you want to grow your business it’s important to build a team. But if you’re afraid of hiring, here are nine tips to help dampen the dread. </p><h2>Peter got burnt. So did Heather. Are you worried too?</h2> <p>When I first met Peter, a gentle, educated and easy going man, he had just acquired another local business that came with a warehouse and several employees. The excitement of the new business went south very quickly though. In the first month, two of the employees took him to the Industrial Relations Commission, and he’s been afraid to have employees ever since.</p> <p>Another client, Heather, explained how her retail florist business has been a revolving door for employees.&nbsp; Just when her staff are fully trained, they move on. One of them even resigned by text message!</p> <p>A straw poll of my clients revealed that (rightly or wrongly) many are afraid of hiring employees. In many cases, this fear is holding back their business <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/growth/business-growth-solo-to-micro-without-headaches" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/growth/business-growth-solo-to-micro-without-headaches">growth.</a></p> <h2>Learning from big business</h2> <p>Bigger businesses build big teams, sometimes in the thousands, so there must be lessons that small businesses can learn from them.</p> <p>Hiring an employee is one of the biggest risk factors to your business, so you need to enter the <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/processes/hiring-recruitment-tips-mistakes" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/processes/hiring-recruitment-tips-mistakes">recruitment</a> phase with your eyes wide open. If you are afraid of hiring staff, it’s time to think like a big business. Here are nine tips that might help.</p> <h2>Treat hiring as just another system</h2><p><strong></strong></p> <p>Treat Human Resource processes as a collection of systems, all designed to find, retain, train and get the most from employees. Make sure your systems keep evolving and developing to ensure they are delivering the results you want. There is no mystery involved, just <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/processes/the-best-of-small-business-systems-processes" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/processes/the-best-of-small-business-systems-processes">systems.</a></p> <h2>Don’t rush </h2> <p>Take your time: Do your due diligence, interview extensively, complete reference checks, provide tests and scenarios, and do anything else that will ensure you hire the best person.</p> <p>Equip yourself with knowledge</p> <p>Protect yourself by knowing about industrial relations and awards. Have excellent contracts drafted, and put adequate protections in place. There are excellent, low cost resources available, but get advice from professionals as well.</p> <h2>Accept the risk</h2> <p>Accept that there is a risk when hiring employees, and realise that sometimes things won’t work out. It’s all just a part of owning a business. It’s no different to accepting the risk of a marketing campaign or taking on a lease.</p> <h2>Keep your eyes peeled for great talent</h2><p><strong></strong></p> <p>Never stop looking for potential team members, treat it like marketing, where you are always looking for new clients, only in this case you’re looking for new employees.</p> <h2>Don’t blur the lines </h2> <p>Keep a safe distance between you and your colleagues, they’re not friends.</p> <h2>Think outside the box </h2> <p>Look at other ways to engage staff. The following could all be suitable options: part-time, contracting, casual, outsourcing and franchising.</p> <h2>Assess your competence as a boss</h2> <p>Look at yourself, and get feedback from your staff on how you perform as a boss. If your staff aren’t performing well or leaving prematurely, maybe you need to improve in certain areas.</p> <h2>Pay fairly</h2> <p>I’ve seen so many business owners who pay commission only or minimal rates. It’s a false economy. A minimum wage doesn’t inspire maximum motivation or loyalty.</p> <p>Building a productive team with a cohesive culture is the foundation of a successful business, but getting the first team member can be daunting. Swallow your fear, do your homework and be brave. In the end, your attitude toward hiring can take your business to a whole new level.</p> <p><strong><em>What are your tips to minimise fear when hiring?</em></strong></p> Warren Harmer tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14761 2014-08-29T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-28T16:28:50+10:00 20 quick tips to make marketing easier <p>I’ve condensed my own marketing advice into 20 one line tips. If you’re a busy soloist looking for a quick and easy marketing guide, this is for you.</p><p>Type the phrase “marketing advice” into any search engine and the volume of information you get back is overwhelming. To avoid spending hours on research, read these useful tips.</p> <h2>Search Engine Optimisation</h2> <p><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) is essential for anyone who doesn’t want their website to be forever consigned to Google obscurity. Although SEO does involve a certain amount of technical expertise, there are a few tips that even the most tech-phobic soloists can put into action. Here are my five favourites:</p><p>1. Write personalised <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">meta-descriptions</a> for every page and blog post.</p> <p>2. Include keywords in <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 tags</a>.</p> <p>3.Sign up for Google Authorship.</p> <p>4. Guest post regularly on high quality, relevant blogs (like Flying Solo!).</p><p>5. Always create content that is high quality, engaging and authoritative.</p> <h2>Appearance</h2> <p>When it comes to online marketing, people really do judge a book by its cover. Make sure your website is easy to navigate and visually appealing with these suggestions:</p> <p>6. Keep the layout uncluttered and clean for easy navigation.</p> <p>7. Avoid using ads or popups as they can make your site look spammy.</p> <p>8. Stick with a standard single sidebar on the right for a business website.</p> <p>9. Use a black font on white background to keep things easily readable.</p> <p>10. Place <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-writing/top-email-marketing-tips" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-writing/top-email-marketing-tips">email</a> subscription boxes and RSS feeds near the top of the sidebar.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2>Promoting your business</h2> <p>Promoting your business online requires time and hard work, but the results can be worth it. Creating and distributing <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/content-marketing/content-marketing-in-an-hour-a-week" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/content-marketing/content-marketing-in-an-hour-a-week">content</a> through blogs, eBooks, video and images is a highly effective way to engage your readers and prove your authority. Follow these guidelines for effective content promotion through social media and other channels.</p> <p>11. Share other people’s content as well as your own on social media.</p> <p>12. Spend time engaging with communities on social media.</p> <p>13. Respond to comments on your blog and engage with your readers.</p> <p>14. Promote your website on your email signature and business cards.</p> <p>15. To build your community, try guest blogging on reputable blogs.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2>Random tips</h2> <p>Here are five more random pieces of advice that I’ve learned over the years that don’t fit into any particular category.</p> <p>16. When writing, use short sentences and small paragraphs.</p> <p>17. If technology isn’t your thing, hire someone else to handle it.</p> <p>18. Be original. Try to think of a new angle for every idea.</p> <p>19. Read about your niche and follow blogs that interest you.</p> <p>20. Brainstorm ideas regularly at a time when you feel creative.</p> <p><a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/marketing-your-service-seven-ps-of-marketing" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/marketing-your-service-seven-ps-of-marketing">Marketing</a> your business doesn’t have to be a headache. With a few simple tips you can improve your online marketing today and hopefully see immediate results.</p> <p><strong><em>These are my top 20 marketing tips – what have I missed? Share your must-do, one line marketing tips in the comments below.</em></strong></p> Jo Macdermott tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14765 2014-08-28T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-29T16:27:57+10:00 Part 1: Three hacks for a killer presentation <p>No one is born a natural public speaker. It takes a lot of learning, unlearning, tweaking and trialling. So let’s look at five hacks to a killer presentation.</p><p>According to a recent survey, 23 per cent of people rated public speaking as their greatest fear. Yep, they did not fear death as much as they <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/presentation-skills/10-ways-to-manage-public-speaking-nerves" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/presentation-skills/10-ways-to-manage-public-speaking-nerves">fear speaking</a> in public, which is known as glossophobia.&nbsp;</p> <p>What glossophobic people are <em>really</em> afraid of is making a mistake or looking foolish in front of others.&nbsp;</p> <p>No one is born a natural public speaker. It takes a lot of learning, unlearning, tweaking and trialling. Let’s start with some unlearning first.&nbsp;</p> <h2>What’s wrong with your presentation&nbsp;</h2> <p>Most people create <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/presentation-skills/presentation-skills-for-beginners" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/presentation-skills/presentation-skills-for-beginners">presentation</a>s with many slides that are packed with facts and content. The problem is that the audience gets bored within minutes. The stock photos are hardly persuasive and the slides contain too much tightly-squeezed information.<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>With this approach, you’re giving too much importance to things that don’t matter. The slides are hardly your presentation – it’s <em>you</em> who makes your presentation unique and useful.&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, if you have to read the slides word for word, you’re not presenting, you’re reading. Your audience will soon stop paying attention. Don’t make the mistake of blurring the lines between you (the presenter owning the space) and the slides.&nbsp;</p> <p>With that out of our way, let’s look at three presentation hacks you can use immediately.&nbsp;</p> <h2>1. Make a connection&nbsp;</h2> <p>Always start with an <em>intention</em> to engage with your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/know-your-audience-whos-in-the-room" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/know-your-audience-whos-in-the-room">audience. </a>&nbsp;Setting a simple intention of how you want the presentation to go, works wonders. It gets your subconscious mind on your side. With that intention, build a rapport as soon as you start. You’re in deep rapport with someone when your words become their thoughts.&nbsp;</p> <p>A great way to start your presentation is by using humour. Jokes (yes, even bad ones) are great for building rapport from the start.&nbsp;</p> <p>Throughout the presentation, keep asking questions and involve your audience to keep them fully engaged.&nbsp;</p> <h2>2. Choose a cool design&nbsp;</h2> <p>You found a cool, free theme on the internet with a crisp blue background. The only problem? Your audience cannot read a thing because your text is black.&nbsp;</p> <p>When choosing a theme, keep it simple and conservative. Make sure the colours are in good contrast with each other. At the same time, avoid white backgrounds because it may be too bright for some people. Tone it down with a soothing grey or beige. Free web-based app, <a href="http://www.visme.co/" mce_href="http://www.visme.co/">Visme</a>, is a good tool for creating online presentations.&nbsp;</p> <h2>3. Break states&nbsp;</h2> <p>Breaking states is an important concept of Neuro Linguistic Programming. When you find your audience drowsy or disinterested, try this technique to break an unwanted state and bring them back. Crack a joke, weave a story or say something that’s completely out of context. If you prefer to go the old-fashioned way, just say “Let’s take a coffee break here”.&nbsp;</p> <p>In this article I’ve offered three hacks for a killer presentation. In my next article I’ll offer seven more.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Do you have tons of presentation ideas swimming in your head now? Go on, share them in the comments below!</em></strong><em></em></p> Pooja Lohana tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14756 2014-08-27T07:30:00+10:00 2014-08-27T10:21:54+10:00 Understanding your profit and loss statement <p>Your profit and loss statement (P&amp;L) provides valuable insights into your business. Can you read and interpret them? If not, these steps will get you started.</p><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">P&amp;L</a> usually covers a financial year, and allows you to report on income and expense figures for the current month, the year to date (i.e. the period from July 1 to the current month), or for another period you define, such as the last three months.&nbsp;</p> <p>A P&amp;L is generally broken into three main areas: sales, costs, and <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/what-small-business-expenses-can-i-claim-on-tax" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/what-small-business-expenses-can-i-claim-on-tax">expenses</a>; each of which is sub-totalled as you work your way down the page. The report will also contain your gross profit and your operating profit.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Sales figures or income&nbsp;</h2> <p>If you invoice your customers, by default the figures in the P&amp;L will be reported on an accrual basis, meaning the report covers what you’ve invoiced, not what you’ve collected. However, most accounting systems will also allow you to run a P&amp;L on a cash basis when required.<br /></p> <p>Note that these figures are always exclusive of GST because GST is never your money, it’s just a tax you’re collecting on behalf of the government.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Cost of goods sold (COGS) or direct costs&nbsp;</h2> <p>These are the <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/the-value-of-getting-your-small-business-costs-right" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/the-value-of-getting-your-small-business-costs-right">costs</a> that vary directly with your sales. For example, if you sell 10 new computers to a client for $1,200 each (excluding GST) your sales income would be $12,000. If those computers had cost you $700 each, your COGS would be $7,000.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you sell services rather than goods, your direct costs will include your wages, salaries or subcontractor expenses for the period.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Gross margin or gross profit (GP)<strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>The difference between your sales income and your total direct costs is your gross margin, or gross profit, GP. In the computer example above, the GP would be $5,000. That is, $12,000 minus $7,000.</p> <p>It can be useful to calculate your gross profit percentage (or GP%), which is just your GP divided by your sales and them multiplied by 100. In the example above, the GP% is 41.7%. That is, $5,000 divided by $12,000, multiplied by 100.&nbsp;</p> <p>This calculation helps you to understand how your business is performing. For example, if your GP% is declining over time you’re likely to feel it in terms of reduced net profit and a worsening cash position.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Expenses&nbsp;</h2> <p>These are the items that typically don’t vary as sales vary, and include rent, marketing expenses, insurances, admin salaries and so on. I see many P&amp;L’s where the expenses are listed in alphabetical order, but I strongly recommend creating some subtotals so you can see totals by each type of expense. For example, total salaries and related costs such as super, training costs, workers compensation and payroll tax. Having these subtotals will help you see the big picture, rather than just worrying about the detail.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Operating profit&nbsp;</h2> <p>Your operating profit is your GP less your expenses. As with GP, it can be very helpful to also calculate your operating profit as a percentage so that you can keep track of changes in your profitability.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Miscellaneous&nbsp;</h2> <p>Your P&amp;L may also include a few other lines such as non-operating income and expenses, but for most practical purposes, you can focus on the operating profit line.&nbsp;</p> <p>Your P&amp;L is a yardstick that you can use to develop your budgets (and then report future P&amp;Ls against that budget) or track trends in your business over time. But it can only be used in that way if you run the report, spend time analysing it, and then take action.&nbsp;</p><p> <strong><em>Have you experienced business benefits from reading and responding to your P&amp;L? If so, please share them in the comments.</em></strong></p> Rhys Roberts tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14767 2014-08-26T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-29T16:20:13+10:00 Silent stories: We’ll tell ours. You tell yours. <p>A silent story is a piece of information that few people know about you. Seldom shared, these little morsels help create connections with others. </p><p>One of the questions our <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/membership/become-a-member/all" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/membership/become-a-member/all">Business Class members</a> can answer for their full page promo is: “What’s one thing about you few people know?” The answers are either quirky, interesting or just downright fascinating. For example, Football-mad <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/spotlight/john-groarke-jegmc" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/spotlight/john-groarke-jegmc">John Groarke</a> shook hands with Liverpool FC legend, Kenny Dalglish. Closet nerd, <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/spotlight/helle-warming-lucas-loves-cars" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/spotlight/helle-warming-lucas-loves-cars">Helle Warming</a> has an engineering degree she’s never used. And <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/spotlight/david-harrison-quercus-cor-management-systems" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/spotlight/david-harrison-quercus-cor-management-systems">David Harrison</a> learnt how to deal with panic after getting lost in an Antarctic blizzard!&nbsp;</p> <p>Here’s one thing you may not know about each of us.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>Lisa Crocker – Membership Maven</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>I was diagnosed as being deaf when I was a baby. My hearing miraculously returned a year later. Now I just have selective hearing!&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Peter Crocker – Ad Man&nbsp;</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>I once played as a substitute fielder against the West Indian Cricket team in their 1995 England tour match vs Somerset.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>Dave Gillen – Forum Fella<br /> </strong></p> <p>I have a world-class skill that allows me to catch dropped objects impossibly before they hit the ground. Not your average catch of your sunnies when they start to slide off, we’re talking some trippy time-bending stuff where I’m overtaking a bottle of olive oil in the air to make the save.</p> <p><strong>Robert Gerrish – Head Honcho</strong></p> <p>In 1990 I sold my house in London and sunk the proceeds into a disused Public Convenience, transforming it into an art gallery. I learnt heaps and lost plenty!<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>Sam Leader – Mojo Manager<br /> </strong></p> <p>If you played me nearly any song from the 1980s, I'd be able to tell you the name and artist within seconds and could quote most of the lyrics, too.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>Lucinda Lions – Editor at Large</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>When I was pregnant I had a condition known as <em>Pica</em> where I craved bizarre things. Gherkins? Nah. I salivated over sand and even looked twice at a car tyre. I also frightened a guy in Bunnings who saw me tasting fence palings in aisle eight. (Postscript: My baby was human.)&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Jayne Tancred - Forum Concierge</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>As a teenager, I saw the Blues Brothers 14 Wednesday nights in a row, and remain convinced that it is the best movie ever made. I still know all the words to the script, made all my friends dress up like Blues Brothers for my 40th birthday party, and am on a mission (from God) to see all the musicians who starred in the film perform live before they die.</p> <p><strong> Jodie McLeod – Editor on Leave</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>I spent most of my childhood on the back of a horse, and once beat an Olympic Gold Medallist equestrian rider in an eventing competition. Given, his horse was in training, but... Olympic Gold Medallist!&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Jennifer Tumanda – Admin Angel</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>I'm a math whiz. I can solve most x and y problems within five minutes. If you need a little help with tangents and cosines, just drop me an email.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Your go. Need some ideas? Perhaps you have a quirky skill, talent or party trick? Did you have an unusual job? Represented your country in something? Met a famous person? Done something silly/amazing/life-saving? Overcome an adversity? Whatever it is, we’d love to hear from you!&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>What’s one thing about you few people know?</em></strong></p> Lucinda Lions tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14792 2014-08-24T07:30:00+10:00 2014-08-25T10:49:04+10:00 Member must reads, part 1 <p>Mary Gardam, Robert Rhys and John Groarke share the books that have had the most influence on the way they run their business. </p><h2>Mary Gardam</h2> <p>I have two business bibles, surprisingly enough one is <em><a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/book" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/book">Flying Solo: How to go it alone in business</a></em> (Gerrish, Leader, Crocker) and the other is <a href="http://www.booktopia.com.au/the-big-book-of-small-business-andrew-griffiths/prod9781742374284.html" mce_href="http://www.booktopia.com.au/the-big-book-of-small-business-andrew-griffiths/prod9781742374284.html"><em>The Big Book of Small Business</em></a> (Andrew Griffiths).<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><em>Flying Solo</em> is the ultimate practical guide to starting a business, perfect for the novice and a great checklist for those who want to build a great business.&nbsp; It not only addresses the 'how to' of setting up your business but also considers the challenges and impacts of moving from being an employee to being the boss.&nbsp; Written by those who've been there, it is an essential read when you are having one of those days.<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;"> <em>Thanks, Mary, we'll pay you later ;) - The FS Authors</em><br /></span></p> <p>In <em>The Big Book of Small Business, </em>Andrew goes beyond the obvious and shares some fabulous tips for improving your business and ensuring you aren't forgotten in the process.&nbsp; Andrew shares y his own business experiences and the lessons he's learnt with honesty and in an easy-to-read style. It's my favourite of his books.</p> <p>I also have a book that I read that is more about my personal growth and performance: <em>The Leader Who Inspires </em>(Dan Jackson).<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><em>The Leader Who Inspires</em> encourages you to look for the influencer within.&nbsp; Dan's book isn't just for business owners with staff, it's for anyone who wants to have positive interactions and influence within their network.&nbsp; It's also a great insight into understanding how workplaces function - particularly useful for consultants and contractors who work closely with or are inserted into organisations to affect change. A must read for first time managers.</p> <p><em>Read more about <a href="http://logiqa.flyingsolo.com.au/" mce_href="http://logiqa.flyingsolo.com.au/">LoqiQA</a>'s Mary Gardam in her <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/spotlight/mary-gardam-logiqa" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/spotlight/mary-gardam-logiqa">Spotlight profile</a>.&nbsp;</em></p> <h2>Rhys Roberts</h2> <p>A few years I came across the marvelous book <em><a href="http://www.booktopia.com.au/the-no-asshole-rule-robert-i-sutton/prod9780749954031.html" mce_href="http://www.booktopia.com.au/the-no-asshole-rule-robert-i-sutton/prod9780749954031.html">The No Asshole Rule</a> </em>(Robert I. Sutton).&nbsp; I think I avoid being one, but I have to be honest and admit to having a very low tolerance for those who are.&nbsp; Such people are pretty much the reason I no longer work in the corporate sector &amp; now run my own business.<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Now as my business is growing I re-read this book every year or so, the lessons I take from it:<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Don’t be an asshole as an employer</p> <p>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Don’t hire assholes, no matter how talented they may be – the damage they can do to the organi<em>s</em>ation far outweighs the benefits they bring</p> <p>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Don’t tolerate assholes as clients – no matter how much money they bring in, if they are toxic to work with, show them the door.</p> <p>The last one is the hardest to stick to, but I do try.</p> <p><em>Read more about&nbsp;<a href="http://viridity.flyingsolo.com.au/" mce_href="http://viridity.flyingsolo.com.au/">Viridity</a>'s&nbsp;Robert Rhys in his&nbsp;<a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/spotlight/rhys-roberts-viridity" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/spotlight/rhys-roberts-viridity">Spotlight profile</a>.&nbsp;</em></p> <h2>John Groarke&nbsp;</h2> <p>My favourite book is the <strong>THESAURUS</strong>.<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Yes, I am being serious … the thesaurus has helped me to; choose the precise word, remove ambiguity, achieve consistency, and develop distinctive straplines, taglines and slogans.&nbsp; And I am not a professional writer or a marketer.<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Once upon a time, it was a well-worn paperback copy of <a href="http://www.booktopia.com.au/roget-s-thesaurus-of-english-words-phrases-davidson-george/prod9780140515039.html" mce_href="http://www.booktopia.com.au/roget-s-thesaurus-of-english-words-phrases-davidson-george/prod9780140515039.html"><em>Roget’s Thesaurus</em> </a>which accompanied me through my secondary and tertiary education.&nbsp; The internet hadn’t been invented then, so we had to rely upon more tactile methods of support.<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Oh the excitement of not knowing what I would discover!&nbsp; Sometimes I would find alternate useful meanings for other words as I flicked through to the word that I was really looking for!&nbsp; And then the joy, as new meanings jumped off the page to re-kindle (unintentional pun) my creativity.<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>So if you wish to put some precision, unambiguity, consistency and distinctiveness into your writing then please invest in a Thesaurus.</p> <p><em>Read more about <a href="http://jegmc.flyingsolo.com.au/" mce_href="http://jegmc.flyingsolo.com.au/">JEGMC</a>'s John Groarke in his&nbsp;<a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/spotlight/john-groarke-jegmc" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/spotlight/john-groarke-jegmc">Spotlight profile</a>.&nbsp;</em></p> <h2>Want to share your must read?</h2> <p>To participate in in the <em>Member must reads</em> series you must be a member of Flying Solo Business Class.</p> <p><strong>Already a Business Class member?</strong> Simply send your 200 word or less summary to lisa(at)flyingsolo.com.au.</p> <p><strong>Not yet a Business Class member?</strong> <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/membership/my-account/business-class" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/membership/my-account/business-class" target="_self">Find out more</a> about the best value offering in town.</p> <p><br /></p> <p><br /></p> FlyingSolo tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14773 2014-08-23T07:30:00+10:00 2014-08-12T18:49:40+10:00 Biz performance: Statistical Thinking Concepts <p>Statistical thinking is about understanding concepts that have a huge bearing on how quickly you reach your business goals. Here are four of those concepts.</p><h2>1. All things vary</h2> <p>Every result in your business varies, or goes up and down seemingly erratically. <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/measuring-success/better-sales-conversion-through-measuring" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/measuring-success/better-sales-conversion-through-measuring">Sales</a> vary because of: the economy, your marketing messages, your marketing activity, your target market, even the weather.</p> <p>Every measure, including the following, will go up and down: &nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Website visitors</li> <li>Monthly expenses</li> <li>Customer satisfaction</li> <li>Revenue</li> <li>Profit</li> <li>Billable hours</li> <li>E-newsletter subscribers</li> <li>E-newsletter unsubscribes</li> <li>Sales conversion rates&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>Because everything naturally varies, it means we need to be careful about how we interpret our monthly business <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/measuring-success/finding-time-to-measure-your-business-results" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/measuring-success/finding-time-to-measure-your-business-results">results.</a> Most differences are just part of natural variability.</p> <h2>2. Where things vary, there is uncertainty</h2> <p>We can’t ever really know something with 100% certainty. Statistics is not like mathematics, where you get exact answers when you combine numbers.</p> <p>Statistics is the study of uncertainty – or variability – and its core purpose is to draw patterns out of that variability in data.</p> <p>We don’t know exactly how many sales we’ll get next week because we don’t know how all the causal factors will play out. But when we look at our sales data in the right way, we can see patterns that are signals that tell us how sales <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/measuring-success/business-performance-measurement" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/measuring-success/business-performance-measurement"><u>performance</u></a> is going, despite the natural variability.</p> <h2>3. Find measures of uncertainty to make signals stand out</h2> <p>We can look to the past to see weekly sales variations so we can estimate next week’s sales within a likely range.</p> <p>This is why the concept of variation is fundamental to statistics, and why statistical thinking is fundamental to managing our business performance.</p> <p>Variation is a measure of the uncertainty. This routine variation is fundamental to how we can draw knowledge from data because it helps us gauge the amount of uncertainty inherent in whatever it is we want to measure and manage. And what we're managing is the pattern of variation, not the points of data!</p> <h2>4. We cannot find knowledge in individual points of data</h2> <p>Knowledge can come only from patterns in data, and these patterns are patterns of variation. If the variation reduces or increases or moves, it generally is a signal that something happened to cause a change.</p> <p>Sometimes when the pattern of variation doesn’t change, it’s also a signal that our efforts are having no effect!</p> <p>You cannot manage business performance without statistical thinking.&nbsp;When you ignore variation and uncertainty, you react to every fluctuation from month to month (or week to week) as though it means something significant happened.</p> <p>But more often than not, nothing significant happened! Those fluctuations are just a natural product of complex and interrelated causes; a product of natural variability.</p> <h2>So how do we know when something significant happened in a business measure?</h2> <p>How do we know when we need to take action to improve performance? We need to&nbsp;distinguish the routine and natural variation in our performance data, from the abnormal or non-routine variation&nbsp;that signals a change.</p> <p>And it’s easy to do this – even though most people don’t even know about it. It takes just your measure’s data, a few easy statistical calculations, and one simple graph known as an&nbsp;XmR chart. Google “xmr chart for performance measures” to learn more about these great charts.</p> <h2>Take action</h2> <p>Pay more attention to how you draw conclusions from your business measures, like revenue, sales, profit and website analytics. Are you interpreting routine variation as a signal? Are you ignoring changes in the pattern of variation that indicate there is a signal? Employ statistical thinking concepts and you improve your chances of reaching your business goals faster.</p> <p><strong><em>What are your thoughts on these statistical thinking concepts?</em></strong></p> Stacey Barr tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14762 2014-08-22T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-28T16:28:08+10:00 Loyalty programs versus earning loyalty <p>In many ways, customer loyalty is like trust – it cannot be bought, it must be earned. So let’s look at loyalty programs versus earning loyalty. </p><p>It has frequently been said that the basis for business longevity is developing and maintaining a <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/customer-service/the-importance-of-customer-loyalty" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/customer-service/the-importance-of-customer-loyalty">loyal</a> customer following. Interestingly enough, as important as this concept is, a number of recent research studies have shown that customer loyalty has been decreasing in recent years.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Loyalty programs&nbsp;</h2> <p>Although many business owners see loyalty programs as nothing more than bribery, the following statistics (published in late 2013) show there is much room for debate:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Consumers will use loyalty programs 33 percent of the time in order to purchase different brands.</li> <li>If a good price promotion is offered by your competitors, 96 percent of your customers will be tempted to try the competitor’s brand or product.</li> <li>If your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/business-confidence/learning-from-business-competitors-how-to-turn-competition-into-inspiration" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/business-confidence/learning-from-business-competitors-how-to-turn-competition-into-inspiration">competitors</a> offer a better loyalty program than you, 20 percent of your customers will not remain loyal to your brand or business.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>The reality is that a loyalty program will not guarantee that your customers will stay true to you.&nbsp;</p> <p>We all know that consumers love freebies or paying less and getting more, but the problem is that many of the loyalty programs out there do not really create <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-relationships/increase-customer-loyalty" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-relationships/increase-customer-loyalty">loyalty.</a>&nbsp;</p> <p>If everyone in the marketplace continues to <em>“out-discount”</em> or <em>“out-loyalty program”</em> all their competitors, eventually there will be nothing left. So to create customer loyalty, loyalty must be re-defined and re-examined.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Earning loyalty&nbsp;</h2> <p>If we hope to achieve a loyal customer following we have to look at ourselves first. Earned loyalty is comprised of certain elements that are not evident in purchased loyalties.&nbsp;</p> <p>These include:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Admitting fault or wrongdoing and apologising for it</li> <li>Aligning interests and shared causes</li> <li>Earning a person’s loyalty by always keeping their best interests at heart</li> <li>Following through and doing what you say you will do </li> <li>Showing up as promised&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>Always keep the above points in mind when you are trying to earn customer loyalty. Rather than bribing your customers, earn their loyalty by appreciating them and genuinely rewarding them.&nbsp;</p><p> <strong><em>What are your thoughts on customer loyalty?</em></strong></p> Samantha Hurst tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14755 2014-08-21T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-21T16:42:39+10:00 Part 2: Common web design industry terms <p>Puzzled by tech jargon? This second article in the series is for you! If you’re hiring a web designer or building a site yourself, know these common web terms. </p><p>My previous article covered the <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/business-websites/part-1-common-web-design-industry-terms" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/business-websites/part-1-common-web-design-industry-terms">A – G of web tech terms</a>, this article covers H –Z.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Home Page</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/website-content/improve-your-website-homepage-copy" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/website-content/improve-your-website-homepage-copy">Home page</a> is like the front door of your website, it’s the page people land on when they type in your domain name. Oftentimes people land on many different pages within a website, but the Home page is the start page.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Hosting</h2> <p>Websites (or virtual real estate) are physically housed on servers. Basically, it’s where the data is stored. If you do not own your own server at home or in the office, then you can rent one from many different <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/business-websites/websites-101-understanding-web-hosting" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/business-websites/websites-101-understanding-web-hosting">hosting</a> companies for a monthly fee.&nbsp;</p> <h2>HTML</h2> <p>HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language and you can think of it as a foundational code for the internet, or World Wide Web. A man named Tim Berners-Lee sort of created it and first used it in 1980. A designer uses HTML, and everything it is capable of, to lay the foundation for how a website will look, feel, act and move. Recently a new form called XHTML has been evolving. The X stands for Extensible. It’s a modern progression of the language.&nbsp;</p> <h2>H1 Tag</h2> <p>When formatting text in the web environment, for example in a <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/small-business-blogs/why-write-a-blog" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/small-business-blogs/why-write-a-blog">blog</a>, it helps to break the copy apart using headings. The most common are H1 for big titles and main headings. Then, you’ve got H2 for sub-headings and H3, H4, H5 and so on.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Hyperlinks</h2> <p>Hyperlinks are text that have been encased in a link, which when clicked on, takes you to another web page (using HTML coding).&nbsp;</p> <p>Most often the hyperlinked words are a different color, usually a bluish tone. However, other things can be hyperlinked too, like images, flash animation, photographs and video (usually placed inside the screen). Just about anything that’s published online can be hyperlinked so that it does something when your mouse hovers over it, or when you click on it.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Keywords</h2> <p>In terms of web content, <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">keywords</a> are signifiers that tell search engines or indexing programs what the web page, blog, photograph, video is about. An example of keywords could be ‘dog collars’ or ‘leather dog collars’.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Title Tag</h2> <p>Like keywords, a title tag is an element within the code of your website that tells the internet what each page is about. An example of a title tag is: Leather dog collars: studded &amp; cargo patterned.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Meta Descriptions</h2> <p>The meta description is basically a few sentences that describe what your website, or particular pages of your website are about to search engines. A meta description is where you place your most important keywords.&nbsp;</p> <p>Using the Title tag example above, a meta description for that page could be: <em>Looking for dog collars that are comfy, sturdy and attractive? We supply cool leather collars that are studded and cargo patterned.</em>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Navigation</h2> <p>Navigation is how you move from one place to another when on a website. For example, from the Home page you may want to navigate to the Contact page or blog. Navigation can come in many forms, from drop-down menus to specially-designed buttons and graphics. Navigation must be clear though. In fact, perfecting navigation is a good conversion optimisation technique. The easier a site is to use/navigate, the better the user-experience.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Search Engine</h2> <p>A search engine, like Google or Bing, searches the internet constantly so it can index the information, and provide it to people who are searching for it.&nbsp;</p> <p>The term can also refer to search engines within a website. Flying Solo has a search box located in the top right of this page. If you type in ‘tax tips’ it will search the content within the site and present articles and content related to that topic.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)</h2> <p>SEO is the process of optimising your website so that it’s adored by search engines such as Google, and placed high in Google’s search results. For example, if you have a website that sells dog collars, you’d want to optimise your website so that when someone Googles ‘dog collars’, <em>your</em> website appears on the first page, and preferably as high up as possible so that people click through to your website. There are <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/seo-techniques" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/seo-techniques">many ways to optimise your website.</a>&nbsp;</p> <p>As stated in my previous article, knowing these web tech terms won’t make you an expert, but they’ll help you navigate your way through the website design process. Good luck with your website!&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Do you need another term defined? Or can you add your own definition for a term I’ve missed?&nbsp;</em></strong></p> Kapil Jekishan tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14754 2014-08-20T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-23T15:45:50+10:00 How to drive targeted traffic to your site <p>With good volumes of targeted search engine traffic, you can start to make your website really work. Here are some ways to drive targeted traffic to your site.</p><h2>Building your website is just the beginning</h2> <p>As much as we would all like to believe the philosophy “Build it and they will come”, when it comes to website traffic, it usually does not happen like that.</p> <p>Many businesses spend thousands of dollars building a website that ends up sitting dormant, generating no sales or leads. However, with good search engine traffic, you can have a sound, lead-generating website. All you need is some know-how, a strategic online plan and a good implementation strategy.</p> <h2>Keyword research</h2> <p>First up, before doing anything else, you should take a step back and undertake 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">keyword research</a> around the specific Google search queries that people are using in your industry. You should choose the most relevant keywords for your business, which have good search volumes and low to medium competition. Each page should have one primary target keyword (the most relevant keyword to that specific content) and two or three secondary keywords.</p> <h2>Keyword placement </h2> <p>Once you have identified the best series of search terms, you need to establish which keywords are the most relevant for each page on your website. The home page and products/services pages are the most important, they’re usually the most visited and therefore the best potential “money” pages.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2>Call to action</h2> <p>On all your pages and especially the home and products/services pages, it’s important to incorporate effective calls to actions, to encourage visitors to take the next step.</p> <p>Examples of effective <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/website-design/creating-compelling-call-to-action-buttons" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/website-design/creating-compelling-call-to-action-buttons">calls to action</a> include:</p> <ul> <li>“Order now”</li> <li>“Call for a free quote”</li> <li>“Phone today on 1800 456”<strong>&nbsp;</strong></li> </ul> <p>Keyword-rich content</p> <p>Next, build fresh, good quality, unique content around the keywords. Try to create content for your website around typical customer questions, and <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">incorporate your keywords naturally into your answers</a>. By doing this effectively, prospects, customers and Google will view you as an authority in your industry.</p> <h2>SEO Campaign</h2> <p>After that, you should undertake a strategic onsite and offsite SEO campaign. On-page optimisation refers to the structure and soundness of your website. A site that has been built with sound structure will be ranked higher in Google.</p> <p>Off-page optimisation refers to the multiple strategies that boost your rankings to maximise your site’s exposure. One of the current, effective offsite SEO strategies is the publication and syndication of relevant content across authoritative online platforms.</p> <p>The SEO landscape has changed and one way to stay abreast of these changes is to hire an experienced professional.</p> <h2>In a nutshell</h2> <p>By stepping back and reviewing your current online business, building new and relevant content around industry keywords and backing that up with a strategic SEO campaign, your online business will go from strength to strength. You will boost your targeted Google search engine traffic, attracting more leads and customers for your business.</p><p> <strong><em>What are your thoughts on how to drive targeted traffic to your website?&nbsp;</em></strong></p> Emma Henry tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14782 2014-08-19T07:30:00+10:00 2014-08-13T10:27:08+10:00 My biz story: From scientist to soloist <p>This article is for people who may one day jump off the metaphorical cliff to enjoy the flight of a lifetime. This is my story, and what I learnt.</p><h2>Jumping off the cliff </h2> <p>My parents had jobs and their approach to money was conservative and low risk, which was the attitude I inherited. To compound the risk-aversion, I studied science to doctorate level, spending years in large conservative institutions.</p> <p>But, there was a bigger voice inside me, and a whole lot of drive! My former partner coaxed out my inner (scared) <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/business-start-up/the-entrepreneurs-biological-clock" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/business-start-up/the-entrepreneurs-biological-clock">entrepreneur</a> and, in one inspired and unplanned moment, we jumped off the cliff into the world of business.</p> <h2>What sort of business does a scientist start? You’ll be surprised!</h2> <p>As a trained scientist, you probably wouldn’t guess, but the business I started was a restaurant. It was a modest success too. Six years on, we sold it after growing it from 25 seats to 100.</p> <p>That experience taught me an enormous amount and awakened my <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/choosing-a-career/why-passion-is-a-dirty-word" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/choosing-a-career/why-passion-is-a-dirty-word">passion</a> for small business. In fact, from there I commenced a long and happy career as a small business consultant.</p> <h2>Turns out, there are so many people like me</h2> <p>As a consultant for the past decade, I have seen inside hundreds of small businesses, and had the pleasure of working with their owners. Some do things well and other not so well. But what surprised me the most is that I’m not the only accidental businessperson<em>, </em>in fact, it is almost the norm.</p> <p>An air traffic controller became a franchise owner, a pharmacist transformed into a marketer and a teacher became a fitness guru. They are all everyday people who had safe jobs, but an ambition to be something more.</p> <h2>What I learnt </h2> <p>Initially I thought I had too many weaknesses to be a business owner, but my clients showed me that those weaknesses were actually strengths.</p> <p>A quieter, compassionate nature is ideal for sustaining long term business relationships and building a referral base. A scientific, enquiring mind is essential for listening to clients and solving problems from first principles. My passion for <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/processes/the-best-of-small-business-systems-processes" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/processes/the-best-of-small-business-systems-processes">systems</a> and process is a foundation of business growth. My rigorous training in scientific report writing makes my business plans succinct.</p> <p>While I’ve had to improve and strengthen many things, I <em>didn’t</em> have to initially doubt myself.</p> <p>I see equivalent <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/business-psychology/dealing-with-your-strengths-and-weaknesses" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/business-psychology/dealing-with-your-strengths-and-weaknesses">strengths</a> in every business owner, where skills, experience, personalities and mindsets are applied to very different fields from their initial training. In fact, looking at one type of business through a different lens can give you a huge competitive advantage.&nbsp;</p> <p>I love where life has taken me as a cliff-jumping business owner. Maybe one day you can write about your journey too?</p><p> <strong><em>Did you jump off the cliff into a solo or micro business? I’d love to hear your story.</em></strong></p> Warren Harmer tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14791 2014-08-17T07:30:00+10:00 2014-08-14T12:59:52+10:00 How to use the science of persuasion <p>Podcast guest, Paul Jones talks through Robert Cialdini's six influence principles and how they can transform your marketing messages.</p><p>To access all Flying Solo podcasts visit <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/podcast" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/podcast">http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/podcast</a></p> FlyingSolo tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14772 2014-08-16T07:30:00+10:00 2014-08-18T12:45:14+10:00 2014 Federal Budget: Six things you need to know <p>It’s beneficial to invest time keeping abreast of new tax year changes. Here are six things you need to know about the 2014 Federal Budget.</p><p>The latest Federal budget contained a number of matters that directly impact on the majority of small businesses in Australia.<br /></p> <h2>Tax rate changes</h2> <p>There is only one change to mention when it comes to personal income tax rates, but for those affected, it can be a significant factor in decision making.&nbsp;</p> <p>For those whose taxable income exceeds $180,000.00, the temporary budget “deficit levy” of 2 percent of taxable income will apply to every dollar of taxable income over and above $180,000.00. This levy will remain in place for the next two financial years.</p> <h2>Increase in Medicare levy</h2> <p>The current Medicare Levy of 1.5 percent will rise to 2 percent from 1 July 2014. This will impact on the PAYG withholding that applies to all <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">employees</a> of businesses in Australia. The Medicare Levy Surcharge imposed on those who exceed the applicable income thresholds and do not have appropriate levels of private health insurance also remain in place for this financial year.</p> <h2>Loss carry-back rules repealed</h2> <p>In the 2013 <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/how-to-minimise-tax" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/how-to-minimise-tax">tax</a> year a transitional measure applied where small businesses could offset 2013 losses against 2012 taxable profits to generate a refund of tax paid on 2012 profits, rather than carrying forward 2013 tax losses. The Government is seeking to legislate that these no longer apply to 2014 taxable losses. Time will tell if the Senate allows this measure to pass.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Got employees? You need to read this.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p><em>Employee superannuation contributions </em></p> <p>The budget contained measures to delay the rate of increase in the compulsory SGC you must pay for your employees, but the minimum percentage of SGC has risen from 9.25 percent to 9.5 percent, effective from 1 July 2014. Based on current proposals the rate will remain at 9.5 percent until 30 June 2018.</p> <p>You need to ensure that this increased obligation is factored into budgeting for the new financial year.&nbsp;</p> <p>In order to ensure you are paying the proper rate, hanging onto old versions of desktop software is no longer wise, not that it ever was.<br /> <br /> <em>Minimum wages increase</em></p> <p>The recent decision handed down by the Fair Work Commission has seen the federal minimum wage rise by 3 percent from 1 July 2014. This is on top of the previously mentioned SGC increases.&nbsp;</p> <p>To be fair, the Fair Work Commission did set the increase at less than the unions asking point, taking into account the extra superannuation contributions that also take effect from 1 July.<br /></p> <p><em>Concessional super cap changes</em></p> <p>From 1 July 2014 the concessional <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/tax-tips-for-2012" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/tax-tips-for-2012">superannuation</a> caps have increased to allow all Australians to contribute a maximum of $25,000.00 per financial year into their superannuation.&nbsp;</p> <p>The big benefit is for those aged 50 and over who can now contribute up to a maximum of $35,000.00. For those of you taking advantage of these higher concessional amounts, it can result in immediate tax savings and investing in your own retirement at the same time. <br /> <br /> These are only some of the changes, there are many more. Some changes can be advantageous in tax planning and tax minimisation strategies, whilst other changes can result in significant penalties and headaches. If you’re unsure about how the changes will impact your business, be sure to speak with your accountant or financial planner.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>What are your thoughts?</em></strong></p> <p><br /></p> John Corias tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14740 2014-08-15T07:30:00+10:00 2014-08-15T12:30:35+10:00 How to love and leverage Limelight Moments <p>Limelight Moments are exceptional events or activities that can be leveraged to help you stand out from the crowd. Enjoy your moment in the limelight!</p><p>As a publicist, I’m always looking for the Limelight Moments in a business. Not sure what a Limelight Moment is? Here are a few examples:</p> <ul> <li>You’ve published a <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/are-you-thinking-of-writing-a-business-book" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/are-you-thinking-of-writing-a-business-book">book.</a></li> <li>You or your business wins an <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/public-relations-pr/advice-for-entering-small-business-awards" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/public-relations-pr/advice-for-entering-small-business-awards">award.</a>&nbsp;</li> <li>You’ve released significant research or a major survey conducted by your business.</li> <li>You’ve attended an international conference, either as a delegate or a speaker.</li> <li>You run a Project Management company in the construction industry, your two Limelight Moments are: turning the sod and opening the building.</li> </ul> <h2>How to leverage Limelight Moments</h2> <p>When you leverage your Limelight Moments, you position yourself as a leader in your industry and market expert.</p> <p>Examples of how to leverage a Limelight Moment:</p> <ul> <li>Mention it on your home page. If it’s big news, make sure your visitors can click through to a dedicated page about the Limelight moment.</li> <li>Feature it in a special edition of your business <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/email-newsletters/generate-sales-with-your-email-newsletter-tips" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/email-newsletters/generate-sales-with-your-email-newsletter-tips">newsletter.</a> You don’t have a newsletter? Launch one with your Limelight Moment!</li> <li>Write a blog to share the great news and then share your <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">blog</a> through LinkedIn and Twitter.&nbsp;</li> <li>Make sure you’re connected via social media channels to everyone with an interest in your Limelight Moment: journalists, editors, speakers, colleagues and so on.&nbsp;</li> <li>Look for and connect with industry influencers while you’re in your Limelight Moment.</li> <li>Hold a small but very fancy reception for select clients or industry connections to celebrate.</li> <li>Host or co-host a private industry event, perhaps following or coinciding with an international conference or survey launch.</li> </ul> <p>As a soloist or microbusiness owner you’ll experience many Limelight Moments throughout the year. The key is to recognise them, enjoy them and leverage them in order to boost your profile, and ultimately, your bottom line.</p> <p><strong><em>Tell us about your Limelight moments, past and present. Did you happen to leverage them? We’d love to hear from you!&nbsp;</em></strong></p> Katie McMurray tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14763 2014-08-14T07:30:00+10:00 2014-08-14T10:15:46+10:00 Taxing times: Deduction basics <p>Given that it’s the end of the financial year, now is a good time to look at the basics of tax deductions.</p><h2>A common misconception about the term ‘tax deduction’</h2> <p>It’s a common misconception that when something is ‘tax deductible’, that you will get that money ‘back’. Put another way, there are understandably a lot of people who think that <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">tax deductible</a> expenditure will be returned to them dollar for dollar in their end of financial year tax return. Well, this is not the case!</p> <p>Before you berate your accountant or tax agent, or bemoan about your smaller than expected tax return, read this article.</p> <h2>What is tax deductible?</h2> <p>As a basic premise for wage earners, tax deductible expenditure is that which is directly related to earning your income. For business owners, tax deductible expenditure is an expense which you incur in running your business. However, this basic premise is qualified and modified by a massive amount of legislation, so it is always best to discuss your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/how-to-minimise-tax" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/how-to-minimise-tax">tax</a> affairs&nbsp;with your preferred professional adviser.</p> <h2>How do tax deductions work?</h2> <p>First of all, if you make a tax deductible purchase you won’t simply be getting the value of that purchase back from the ATO in your tax return.</p> <p>What will actually occur is the reduction of your&nbsp;‘taxable income’ by the value of your tax deductible purchases/<a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/what-small-business-expenses-can-i-claim-on-tax" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/what-small-business-expenses-can-i-claim-on-tax">expenses</a> for that income year. Again, this basic premise is modified in certain circumstances, but the following example demonstrates the general principle:</p> <h2><em>Example: Employee/Business Owner</em></h2> <p>In the 2013-14 income year Lucy works part-time as a PR consultant, from which she earns $80,000. Lucy’s employer withheld $20,000 from her salary under the PAYG system. Lucy also runs her own advertising business as a sole trader, and her gross business revenue for the 2013-14 income year is $70,000. Lucy has incurred business related expenses of $50,000. Lucy’s tax obligations are as follows:</p> <p>Assessable Income (salary):&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; $80,000</p> <p>Assessable Income (business):&nbsp; $70,000</p> <p>Allowable Deductions:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;- $50,000</p> <p><u>Assessable Income:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; $100,000</u></p> <p>Tax payable on $100,000&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;$24,947 (exc medicare levy)</p> <p>PAYG withheld&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; $20,000</p> <p>Tax owing:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; $4,947</p> <p>Lucy will have a tax bill of $4,947. This is principally because she has not yet paid tax on her business income, and the tax withheld by her employer is not enough to cover both her salary income and business income. &nbsp;</p> <h2>Modifications</h2> <p>While some deductions may be available immediately, others will become available over time. Usually, these deductions take the form of depreciation. Additionally, the above examples would often be altered by a number of other considerations including, but not limited to:</p> <p></p><ul><li><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">Capital gains</span></li><li><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">Tax offsets/rebates</span></li><li><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">Prior year tax losses, and</span></li><li><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">Medicare levy/surcharge</span></li></ul><p></p> <p>Remember also that if you’re claiming certain deductions you will need to keep relevant records for up to five years.</p> <h2>Lodging your tax return</h2><p><strong></strong></p> <p>Perhaps unfortunately, tax isn’t simple. Whilst there is plenty of explanatory information publicly available, including through the ATO website, fully digesting and understanding how that information applies to your situation can be difficult.</p> <p>If this is you, it generally pays to take some professional advice from a registered tax agent or tax lawyer. This advice will generally cost less than the ultimate cost of making a mistake. And, best of all, the cost of such advice almost certainly will be tax deductible – the benefit of which you are now fully equipped to appreciate.</p><p> <strong><em>Do you have anything to add about tax deductions?</em></strong></p> Adam Dimac tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14741 2014-08-13T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-13T12:40:39+10:00 The part-time business. Problems to avoid. <p>Thanks to the internet, folks everywhere are working a day job while running a part-time biz on the side. If this is you, here are some tax traps to avoid.</p><h2>Hobby or Business?</h2> <p>The sideline business is becoming a serious problem for the ATO, and is being closely monitored as a consequence. If you’re working full-time with a small business on the side, there’s often an issue relating to how you define your venture.</p> <p>Are you a hobby or a business? The ATO gets annoyed if you apply for an ABN, register a business name and register for <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/should-you-register-for-gst" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/should-you-register-for-gst">GST;</a> then claim huge GST refunds when you’re simply a hobby.</p> <p>If you’re going to do all of the above, be clear about why you consider yourself a business. If you’re going to class yourself as a hobby, then it’s best not to obtain an ABN or register a business name, but to advertise legally under your own name instead – or you will put yourself at risk of an <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/knowing-when-to-change-your-business-structure" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/knowing-when-to-change-your-business-structure">audit.</a></p> <h2>Asset Protection</h2> <p>Another common issue with the sideline business is asset protection. Often your business is so small that you don’t feel the need to set yourself up in any complex <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/knowing-when-to-change-your-business-structure" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/knowing-when-to-change-your-business-structure">tax structures</a>. The majority of small sideline businesses end up trading as a sole trader.</p> <p>But have you considered the safety of your personal assets? Tax structures such as companies and trusts are designed to <em>protect your assets</em> more than they are to minimise tax. Have you thought about what your cake baking business would do to your financial assets if someone got food poisoning and sued? If you’re trading as a sole trader, your personal assets are fully exposed.</p> <p>This advice goes for the hobbyist too. Your venture might be a hobby, but if you’re out there selling things or providing a service, you expose yourself to the risk of being sued.</p> <h2>Income Protection Insurance</h2> <p>If you have cut back hours on your day job to run your business venture, consider income protection insurance. This is especially important if your sideline business involves a higher chance of workplace injury, such as trades like roof tile cleaning. The good news is that your income protection insurance will be a tax deduction.</p> <h2>Superannuation</h2> <p>If you’re running a small business while working at the same time, and you’re a sole trader, it may not be possible to claim superannuation contributions as a tax deduction. This is because you must pass what is known as the 10 percent rule.</p> <p>The 10 percent rule states that to be able to claim superannuation contributions as a tax deduction, no more than 10 percent of your total taxable income can come from salary and wages. If you don’t pass the rule, then instead, consider salary sacrificing your superannuation through your day job.</p> <p>Also, as you cut back on your working hours to run your side business, your employer super contributions will decrease accordingly. It’s important that you continue to contribute to superannuation by way of personal contributions so you can maintain your standard of living in retirement.</p> <h2>GST</h2> <p>If you’re working whilst running a venture on the side, your available time is going to be precious. It’s likely that your yearly business turnover is less than $75,000, therefore if you voluntarily decide to register for GST, make sure you choose the option to lodge your Business Activity Statement once a year rather than quarterly.</p> <p>While your business might be small, there are some really BIG issues to consider. When it comes to tax, if you set your small business up correctly, you will reap some solid rewards.</p> <p><strong><em>What are your experiences with having a sideline business?</em></strong></p> Jasmine Kidd tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14731 2014-08-12T07:30:00+10:00 2014-08-11T11:47:25+10:00 Lessons to learn from the Lego success story <p>Ten years ago Lego was on the verge of bankruptcy but managed to pick up the pieces. As business owners, we can learn valuable lessons from the Lego story. </p><p>Although seven Lego sets are sold every second, 10 years ago,&nbsp;Lego was in pieces. The family-owned company had been heading closer to bankruptcy since 1999. In 2003, sales dropped 29 per cent globally. By January 2004, Lego announced a huge deficit, saying it was losing one million dollars a day.&nbsp;</p> <p>In truth, the problem went much deeper than the balance sheet. Lego had forgotten its roots. Its products were moving further and further away from what people love about Lego.&nbsp;</p> <p>But then the unexpected happened. Owner and CEO Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, grandson of founder Ole Kirk Christiansen, stepped down and appointed Jorgen Vig Knudstorp as Lego’s new CEO. Knudstorp wasted no time in turning the company around.&nbsp;</p> <p>His strategy boiled down to three core principles that can be applied to any business – big or small.</p> <h2>1. Really know your customers&nbsp;</h2> <p>Lego may have been honoured with the Best Toy of the Century award (twice) but it had committed the biggest business blunder of them all: it had completely lost touch with its core <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-relationships/understanding-customer-evolution" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-relationships/understanding-customer-evolution">customers.</a> Sure, the company had done lots of research on play, but it had failed to get out there amongst the families and kids who use its products. As a result, Lego quite simply failed to keep pace with the changes in kids' lives and began sliding into irrelevance.&nbsp;</p> <p>When Lego’s analysts did get out there and talk to the kids, they found the most meaningful play for children seemed to involve degrees of difficulty and skill acquisition – rather than a need for instant gratification from toys.&nbsp;</p> <p>That was only one insight that led to a new generation of Lego products that were more in-tune with its customers.&nbsp;</p> <p>No matter whether you’re the world’s leading toy manufacturer, a small retailer or a business to business (B2B) firm, you need to dig deep to understand your customers. Do the research, which can be as simple as getting <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">feedback</a> from your existing customers. Then, dig deeper and use the insights to create an offer your customers really want.</p> <h2>2. Be true to your roots&nbsp;</h2> <p>Even though it has branched out into digital games, theme parks and movies, it is the core products – the little Lego man and the humble Lego bricks – that remain at the heart of the company.&nbsp;</p> <p>When you buy Lego, you know exactly what you're getting, which is more than can be said for the other major toy companies. The level of quality and brand message remains consistent.&nbsp;</p> <p>The lesson here is simple: have a single strong message for 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">brand</a>, and stick to it in all the channels you use.&nbsp;</p> <h2>3. Trust your most loyal fans&nbsp;</h2> <p>Knudstorp tried something different and a little bit daring – handing over creative control to hardcore Lego fans. One of the biggest problems Lego had was the fact that its top designers had the skills but not the real understanding of Lego’s appeal. In 2006, the first designer recruitment workshop was held and a number of AFOLs (adult fans of Lego) were taken on as Lego designers to help rethink the company’s products.&nbsp;</p> <p>It worked.&nbsp;</p> <p>The results were kits that featured new parts and characters but never veered from the distinctive and much-loved Lego feel. But more than that, the result was a company that had become truly customer-centric.&nbsp;</p> <p>The lesson here is to trust your most loyal customers. You don’t have to employ them like Lego did, but you <em>should</em> proactively get feedback from them. If they aren’t behind your product or service, it’s your job to find out why.&nbsp;</p> <p>These are just three lessons that small businesses can learn from Lego, but as you can see, they’re very important.<strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong></p> <p><strong><em>Are these Lego lessons relevant to your business? Do you have any more to add?&nbsp;</em></strong></p> Ryan Christie tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14746 2014-08-09T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-15T13:24:46+10:00 Pricing: Seven things to consider <p>The right cost model can keep your business afloat and your customers happy. Consider these points when setting your price.</p><p>I have seen a number of micro business owners improve their <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/profitability-and-cash-flow-checklist" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/profitability-and-cash-flow-checklist">profitability</a> and longevity by taking the time to get their price right.</p> <p>It may take more than one attempt to find a pricing model that best fits your small business, but don’t be tempted to put this matter in the ‘too hard’ basket.</p> <h2>When thinking about pricing, think about value.</h2> <p>You must adopt a holistic perspective and be prepared to ask yourself questions relating to how your business creates, delivers and captures value. This may sound complicated, but in most cases the process can be summarised by the following seven points.</p> <p><strong>1. Value proposition</strong></p> <p>Consider the value you offer your customer segments. What sets you apart from your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/pricing-strategy/competitor-pricing-strategy-should-i-charge-the-same-as-my-competitors" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/pricing-strategy/competitor-pricing-strategy-should-i-charge-the-same-as-my-competitors">competitors?</a></p> <p><strong>2. Key activities</strong></p> <p>Consider the things you do to make your value proposition happen.</p> <p><strong>3. Key resources</strong></p> <p>Consider the things required to deliver on your value <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/create-a-unique-selling-proposition-USP" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/create-a-unique-selling-proposition-USP">proposition.</a> These can be tangible items such as equipment, facilities or premises – or intangible things, such as knowledge, skills and experience.</p> <p><strong>4. Customer relationships</strong></p> <p>Consider how you relate to people in your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/defining-your-target-market" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/defining-your-target-market">target market</a>.&nbsp; How do they prefer to communicate? Are they digital natives? Or do they prefer a more personal, face-to-face approach? How much interaction and/or information do they need in order to make a decision?</p> <p><strong>5. Customer segments </strong></p> <p>Customer segments are the demographic groups you serve. By having a clear definition of your target audience you can better understand, and therefore better deliver on their wants and needs.</p> <p><strong>6. Revenue streams</strong></p> <p>Consider the ways you make money. They may be a direct result of your own sales efforts, or the result of indirect activities like cross-promotion and referrals.</p> <p><strong>7. Cost structure</strong></p> <p>Consider how you pay to run your business. Increasing competition and the growth of services like industry comparison sites means that a little extra research (and perhaps some negotiation!) can secure you a better deal on many everyday business needs.</p> <p><strong>8. Key partners</strong></p> <p>Make sure the vendors and suppliers you do business with understand their role in the delivery of your value proposition.</p> <p>Whether you are selling to consumers or to other businesses, your price will frequently influence purchase decisions, so give it as much attention as other aspects of your business strategy.</p> <p><strong><em>What are your thoughts on this article? Do you have any other pricing points to consider?&nbsp;</em></strong></p> Craig Jackson