tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:/feeds/all Flying Solo 2014-07-31T07:30:00+10:00 tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14742 2014-07-31T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-14T16:02:09+10:00 How to have the most loyal Virtual Assistant <p>To have the world’s most loyal Virtual Assistant (VA), consider the five approaches in this article. They’re easy to implement and highly effective. </p><p class="Body">I get asked all the time about the best way to create an amazing business relationship with a <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/outsourcing/five-tips-for-working-with-a-virtual-assistant" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/outsourcing/five-tips-for-working-with-a-virtual-assistant">VA.</a> For me, it’s all about connecting with them on a personal level.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Celebrate the little victories&nbsp;</h2> <p class="Body">The importance of celebrating little victories is vastly underrated. If your VA’s do something noticeably awesome, let them know. It takes only around 30 seconds to send a Skype message or email, but it will boost their motivation for the entire day.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">It is proven that celebrating little victories and milestones will:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Expedite the attainment of a bigger goal </li> <li>Increase job satisfaction, motivation and confidence </li> <li>Make employees feel important and appreciated&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p class="Body">Remember that when training and managing employees, especially ones who are <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/growth/five-tips-to-manage-virtual-staff" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/growth/five-tips-to-manage-virtual-staff">working remotely</a>, there is no better return on your investment than to give them multiple reasons to wake up each morning and WANT to work for you.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2>Don’t alienate your VA’s&nbsp;</h2> <p class="Body">It can be easy to neglect your VA’s, given their distance and possible time zone difference, but this is a recipe for failure. Include them on all of your team meetings and emails. Make them feel just as valued and respected as if they were sitting next to you in an office.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">The way you treat and manage your first VA will most likely be a manual for your relationship with all future staff. Put in the time to get it right and it will be much easier to create a self-functioning and cohesive team down the track.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Treat your VA like family&nbsp;</h2> <p class="Body">The more you include you VA in your company's culture, the better results you will see. Try these little things:</p> <ul> <li>Send a funny image or GIF on a Friday afternoon</li> <li>Do a team shout out for birthdays</li> <li>Send out a team email for work anniversaries&nbsp;</li> </ul> <h2>R-E-S-P-E-C-T</h2> <p class="Body">Treating people with respect is a no-brainer, but it’s something that a lot of people shockingly forget to do when working with a VA.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">It’s easy to forget you’re dealing with experienced professionals when they are working remotely. Don’t fall into the ‘disrespect trap’. Show your staff that you value and care about their insights.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Enhance their skills<strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p class="Body">Invest in the growth of your VA’s and you’ll inspire them to take a bigger role in your business. Not only will this increase results and save you <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/time-management-tips/managing-your-perceptions-about-time" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/time-management-tips/managing-your-perceptions-about-time">time</a>, it will also send a message that you value professional growth.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">These five approaches are simple and effective. Follow them and you’ll likely have the most loyal VA in the world!&nbsp;</p><p> <strong><em>How do you create loyalty amongst your virtual staff?&nbsp;</em></strong></p> Kevin Mallen tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14733 2014-07-30T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-07T15:10:45+10:00 How to make your blog stand out <p>Do you feel like everyone’s blog has the same message, same tone and same look? They do. That’s why it’s time to break free from the crowd. Here are three ways.</p><h2>1. Tell your story with “The Hero’s Journey” model&nbsp;</h2> <p><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">Tell your story</a> by blending it in with your product or service. For example, are you a health professional who survived a heart attack?</p> <p>Tell your story by making use of “The Hero’s Journey” model. Initially, there is a call to adventure but the hero (you) ignores it, until the call gets so loud the hero cannot refuse to hear it anymore. That’s when you face your deepest fears and take the plunge. You resurrect and return with the elixir.</p> <p>Here’s my hero story. I started freelance writing back in 2010. That time, I had no connections in the industry. Heck, I didn’t even know I was going to delve into writing until the day I quit my IT job.</p> <p>I dragged myself out of bed each morning to commute to work for nearly five and a half years, until finally, I stopped dismissing the urge.</p> <p>So without clients, I started with a humble Wordpress blog. I shared what I was learning as a writer, weaving it all together with my story. It was lame in many ways. My blog was a far cry from anything professional. But, people came. Gradually, I made connections with other bloggers because they connected with my story.</p> <p>Without my story, I was a nobody. With it, I was someone with rich life experience.</p> <p>My point? Bring YOU into the mix.</p> <h2>2. Showcase your uniqueness</h2> <p>What is your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/website-content/uniqueness-your-websites-secret-weapon" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/website-content/uniqueness-your-websites-secret-weapon">uniqueness?</a> How can your prospects isolate <em>you</em> from competitors? When I think “cool online marketing” I think HubSpot. It’s a difficult position to hold and they do it well. It’s easy to <em>isolate</em> them from thousands of other similar competing blogs because they blend in humour with solid advice. You can do the same in your industry.</p> <h2>3. Pictures and text speak 10,000 words</h2> <p>If I asked you to taste the local baker’s strawberry mousse <em>just once</em> because it’s so fluffy and light and succulent, or I showed you a picture of the strawberry mousse; which one would get you drooling? The picture will win, hands down.</p> <p>You may not be a great writer, but you can always combine your message with a simple visual. In the age of Big Data, no one spares more than eight seconds on your content, so you have to be darn good at it.</p> <p>That’s <em>eight</em> seconds.</p> <p>Visuals, on the other hand, are portable, snackable and shareable. And you don’t have to spend a fortune on graphic designers either. One example of a graphic design tool is <a href="http://www.visme.co/" mce_href="http://www.visme.co/">Visme</a>, a free app you can use to create marketing visuals such as <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">Call To Action</a> banners, presentations, infographics. Also, <a href="http://www.canva.com/" mce_href="http://www.canva.com/">Canva</a> is a great tool to create cool images with text overlays.</p> <p>In a nutshell, sharing your story, celebrating uniqueness and including images are three excellent ways of ensuring your blog stands out from the crowd.</p> <p><strong><em>Is your head brimming with ideas? How are you going to implement the ones above? Share your thoughts in the comments.</em></strong></p> Pooja Lohana tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14695 2014-07-29T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-31T10:54:30+10:00 Five myths to beat before they beat you <p>Soloists can believe some long-held myths are actually true. Unfortunately, if they’re not debunked, these myths can drive small business into the ground.</p><h2>Myth 1: To succeed, you have to work long hours.</h2> <p>There’s no doubt that starting and growing a business takes commitment and involves time and effort. Working long hours, however, is often not the answer.&nbsp;If you’re working without taking a break, you’ll not be working effectively and you’ll soon become <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/marketing-plan-tips-avoiding-business-burnout" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/marketing-plan-tips-avoiding-business-burnout">exhausted.&nbsp;</a></p> <p>To be <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/stop-being-busy-and-start-being-productive" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/stop-being-busy-and-start-being-productive">productive</a>, to think clearly about where your business is headed and to serve your clients well, you need to keep your own wellbeing at the top of your list of priorities.</p> <p>Schedule time away from your place of work, give yourself permission to take a breather and you’ll be more likely to see new ways forward – ways that may not involve such a large drain on your energy and your life.</p> <h2>Myth 2: To do a job properly, you have to do it yourself.</h2> <p>If you are doing everything yourself, you’re not really running a business, you’ve got yourself a job, and a fairly tough one at that.&nbsp;Being able to delegate or to <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> is a skill many soloists fail to learn.</p> <p>By doing everything themselves, they’re effectively admitting that they have no particular specialty, no single strength.&nbsp;That’s not necessarily a problem for everyone – some people like doing everything – but can you see how it limits growth and opportunity?</p> <p>Take a look at what you do best, where your skills are best applied and then see what else you’re involved in.&nbsp;How would your business develop if you spent more time in one area and less in another?</p> <p>Keeping a detailed timesheet for two or three weeks is a great way to track where your time is going and can teach you things about your work output that you’d never imagine.</p> <h2>Myth 3: It’s best to work hard now and enjoy life later.</h2> <p>Sorry, I don’t buy this. My father fell for this one and later never came. Enjoyment simply must be a part of now.</p> <p>Live for the present and enjoy it to the full. Period.</p> <h2>Myth 4: In business, you don’t say ‘no’ to work.</h2> <p>A common assignment I used to set my coaching clients is to practise <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/how-to-harness-the-power-of-no" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/how-to-harness-the-power-of-no">saying no</a> to work. Not for the hell of it – for the heaven of it! Saying yes to everything, grabbing anything that’s going, is usually a sign that not enough thought has been given to what constitutes an ideal client or ideal work.</p> <p>Get clear on what is ideal work for you. Don’t just look at the nature of the work, but consider the characteristics of the people that bring you that work.&nbsp;As your focus becomes clearer, you will recognise ideal clients earlier and over time you’ll draw more of these people to you.</p> <p>Remember when you got a new car and you noticed lots of the same model around the place?&nbsp;It’s the same with your business. Get really clear on where your opportunity lies and you’ll see more openings.</p> <h2>Myth 5: Balance is what happens on weekends.</h2> <p>Sadly, the structure of our society seems to support this view: work like a dog all week, recover at the weekend. I reckon the Spanish have got it right – close down in the middle of the day for a few hours, spend time with your family and take a snooze.</p> <p>This is simply not practical for most, but it pays to look closely at what is possible and challenge your current behaviours.&nbsp;</p> <p>Why did we start our own businesses? Wasn’t part of it a reaction against ‘normal’ working practices? What’s really stopping you?</p> <p>As an exercise, try designing your ideal week on a sheet of paper.&nbsp;Schedule in the things you love: time for a walk perhaps, an early finish one day a week, some daytime visits to the gym. Factor in whatever you would really like. As a target, aim for about 10 luxuries.</p> <p>Now set yourself a goal of introducing two or three a week, every week for the next month. Not convinced? Refer back to Myth 3. </p><p>[Author's note: I wrote a version of this article for The Daily Telegraph about 10 years ago. One delightful reader - Mike Andrew - cut it out and stuck it on his wall, thanking me earlier this year for the impact it had on his work. Thank you, Mike, I hope you like the minor edits.]<br /> <br /> <strong><em>What are your thoughts on these myths? Got anymore to share?</em></strong></p> Robert Gerrish tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14589 2014-07-28T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-25T10:49:30+10:00 Got questions? Get answers. Hit the forums. <p>If you've yet to dive into Flying Solo’s forums, now may be the time. Forumites are friendly, helpful and generous. Join the conversation.</p><p><br /></p><h4>Visit the forums and get chatting:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums" target="_self">www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums</a></h4> FlyingSolo tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14023 2014-07-27T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-25T13:30:10+10:00 Past fave: Timely tips for self-management <p>Managing the way you work within the time you have available will help reduce stress and improve productivity.</p><p>How well do you manage your time?</p> <p>I’m always amused by that question.</p> <p>We can’t “manage our time”, as we all have the same number of hours in a day. What we can do is manage ourselves within the time. Though that is easier said than done, especially in the hectic world of the 21st century!</p> <h2>Are you juggling too many tasks? &nbsp;</h2> <p><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">When we feel stressed and overwhelmed by all that needs to be done, it can impact on everything we do – from the way we communicate with others to our productivity.</span></p> <p>Stress can bring about the following symptoms:</p> <ul> <li>Not listening</li> <li>Becoming abrupt with others</li> <li>Interrupting others</li> <li>Impatience</li> <li>Easily distracted</li> <li>Unable or forgetting to complete tasks&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>To help <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/stress-management/ten-tips-to-help-you-manage-stress" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/stress-management/ten-tips-to-help-you-manage-stress">manage stress</a> and its symptoms, and to maximise your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity">productivity</a>, it’s important to self-manage the way you work. Try these tips to get the best out of you and your time.<strong></strong></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/working-smarter/time-management-tips" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/time-management-tips">time management tips</a> section. </em></p> <h2>1. Prioritise your tasks</h2> <p>Look closely at your list of ‘things to do’.</p> <p>Which items on the list are important and essential to your role or business? <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/time-management-tips/effective-time-management-prioritising-time" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/time-management-tips/effective-time-management-prioritising-time">Prioritise</a> them.</p> <p>Avoid writing longs lists. Instead, divide tasks into manageable chunks or categories.</p> <h2>2. Set boundaries</h2> <p>Life in the information-technology era means we are accessible 24 hours per day, seven days per week. It is important to discipline ourselves, set boundaries around our work and non-work hours and make it clear to others when we will be available. This includes simple tasks such as checking emails. Check your emails at specific times during the day, and only at those times.</p> <p>Clearly communicate to others when you will be available.</p> <p>Set time aside to work on certain tasks. During that time, set your phone to go directly to voice mail. <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/how-to-deal-with-distractions" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/how-to-deal-with-distractions">Limiting distractions</a> will not only give you more time to focus on your tasks but also make it easier for you to complete your tasks.</p> <h2>3. Delegate when possible</h2> <p>Working for yourself doesn’t mean that you have to do everything yourself. There is the option of outsourcing some tasks.</p> <p>In my case, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks I needed to complete during a day just to ensure the business continued smoothly. When I realised that some tasks could be outsourced, I found I had more time to work on the important tasks in my business.</p> <p>Manage yourself within the time you have available and you may find time to be much more manageable.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>What are your tips for self-management?</em></strong></p> Maria Pantalone tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14732 2014-07-26T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-03T14:17:50+10:00 The top six SEO practices for 2014 and beyond <p>Search Engine Optimisation is evolving all the time, but these six steps should help your website be found organically on Google.</p><p>Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has long been recognised as the ultimate website traffic generator. Interestingly enough, today website owners and SEO experts are constantly being challenged by what is relevant and important, and what isn’t. So let’s take a look at the top six SEO practices for 2014 and beyond.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Content strategy and link building</em>&nbsp;</p> <p>Link building is essential. Despite being very rewarding in the long run, building relevant, high-quality links is a tedious and time-consuming process. Another extremely effective way to build inbound links is through guest blogging on other relevant high ranking websites.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Keyword research</em>&nbsp;</p> <p>Before embarking on SEO you need to pinpoint the ideal keywords that are going to convert your website visitors into paying customers. There are a number of <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> tools available online, including Google AdWords keyword planner tool. These tools outline the search volume and competition for each keyword.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>On-page SEO elements</em>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fortunately, there have been no significant changes during the past couple of years in this area. You still need to compose unique, high-quality content that addresses your <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">target audience’s expectations and needs</a>. To ensure that Google and your website visitors understand your content; include your keywords in the alt, header, and <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>, as well as in your URL and (up to four times) in your content.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Optimise your website for mobile users</em>&nbsp;</p> <p>Your webpage <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-marketing/content-marketing-developing-a-content-strategy" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-marketing/content-marketing-developing-a-content-strategy">content</a> and your site must be optimised to accommodate mobile usage, enabling major search engines to keep up with the increase in mobile use and voice searches. If you haven’t done so already, it’s imperative to optimise your site for mobile users.<em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><em>Set up Google Authorship</em>&nbsp;</p> <p>This application enables you to link the content you have written to your Google+ profile. In doing so, you claim ownership of the content you have authored. This increases your author ranking as well as the number of publishers that will publish what you have written. This point is essential if you want to ever rank on page one of Google.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Google algorithm continues to thwart black-hat SEO tactics. The bottom line is that SEO is evolving all the time and its practices are now coming back to the old-fashioned form of traditional marketing. So if you follow the six basic steps above, you should be well on your way to being discovered organically in the search engines.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Do you have any other SEO tips and advice?&nbsp;</em></strong></p> Samantha Hurst tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14729 2014-07-25T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-01T15:33:30+10:00 Part 1: Common web design industry terms <p>Confused by web jargon? This article’s for you! If you’re hiring a web designer or building a site yourself, it’s vital to know these common web tech terms. </p><h2>Blog</h2> <p>Oh boy, well, blogs are basically the online version of a newspaper or magazine article. Sometimes the blog <em>is</em> the website, or, it’s a component of a website which is used for brand development and content/information marketing. For example, a wedding photographer may have 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> that features articles about the weddings she photographs, or, she may have a website, and the blog is just one <em>part</em> of that website. Blog articles can be as long as you like, and they can feature videos and images as well.</p> <h2>Browser</h2> <p>A browser is the vehicle you use to browse the World Wide Web (internet). You’re likely to be looking at this webpage either on the Firefox, Google Chrome or Internet Explorer browsers. You can download them for free and then make use of all their features.</p> <h2>Code</h2> <p>When you reduce it to its purest form, the online world comprises of code. The website you’re looking at now is created by code. To make a headline green, we need to input a code. The more complex the site, the more complex the code becomes and the more time-consuming and creative the task.</p> <h2>Content Management System (CMS)</h2> <p>As the name suggests, a CMS allows you to manage the content on your website. For example, if you’re a plumber who has created your own website, you can add new pages and articles, rather than hiring your web designer to do it for you.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Contact</h2> <p>This is a web-form that’s placed within a website so that people can input their details such as name, email address and phone number; and then send a message to you, the business owner.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Conversion Optimisation</h2> <p>The idea of a website is to either transform or convert a certain percentage of visitors/traffic into paying customers and/or, supporters, followers, readers and commenters. Conversion optimisation involves a great many things. For example, you may redesign your website so that it’s quick and easy to use, leading to a better user-experience. Or, you may write persuasive copy to convert more visitors into paying customers. The list goes on!&nbsp;</p> <h2>Copy</h2> <p>Copy refers to the words on your website. You can write copy yourself or you can hire a <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-writing/eight-signs-youre-hiring-the-right-copywriter" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-writing/eight-signs-youre-hiring-the-right-copywriter">copywriter</a> to do it.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Custom Theme</h2> <p>Every website has a theme, which refers to the design, colours and type of navigation it has. Rather than general, template-style themes, a custom theme is one that is created by a web designer and then coded into a website.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Domain Name/URL</h2> <p>A domain name is what you type into a web browser to get to a certain website, such as <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/">www.flyingsolo.com.au</a>. It’s a slice of virtual real estate.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Forum</h2> <p>Many websites, such as this one, have a <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/index.php" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/index.php">forum</a>. A forum is a place/platform where people can chat using text-based posts. Users create threads within certain categories and then other people can comment on them in order to get a conversation going.</p> <h2>Flash</h2> <p>Designers these days can put together amazing websites that use moving graphics, animation or imagery, known as Flash. If you’re thinking of using Flash, the trick is to keep the overall size of the website (amount of code) on the lower end so it loads quickly and everything moves fluidly and smoothly.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Framework</h2> <p>This is the framework for your website, or building plans/blueprints.</p> <p>More complex or dynamic websites and web applications are built upon Web Application Framework, or WAFs.&nbsp;</p> <p>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 would you like to add your own definition to a different tech term?&nbsp;</em></strong></p> Kapil Jekishan tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14705 2014-07-24T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-29T12:38:03+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><b><i>Week One</i></b>&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><b><i>Week Two</i></b>&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><i>Writing Day</i>&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.<i>&nbsp;</i></li> </ul> <p><i>Next Day</i>&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><i>Publishing - Getting it out there</i><i>&nbsp;</i></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><i>Share it widely</i>&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><b><i>Weeks’ three to five</i></b><b><i>&nbsp;</i></b></p> <p>Refer to the notes under week two and do it all again!&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Writers' block</i>&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!<b><i>&nbsp;</i></b></p> <p><b><i>Feel free to send me your blog URL or put it in the comments below. I’d love to read it!</i></b></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/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