What I wish I knew when I started my business

Have you ever wished your present self could have one of ‘those’ conversations where you pass on valuable knowledge to your younger self? I have several times now, and yet that conversation is yet to happen!!

If your present self can’t have one of those conversations either, I’d best help you both out and let’s have it now.

In the several businesses I have launched over the years, here are some of the business tips I wish I had known or been guided towards.

Business Tip 1: Know and Understand Your ‘Why’

What’s your purpose for starting this business instead of going to work for someone else? Perhaps it’s for family reasons, or you are like me and aren’t a very good employee.

Getting very specific about your ‘why’ will help when things don’t go your way. You may have had a bad experience with a client or lost a contract.

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Juggling motherhood and business

Like many corporate women who realised they couldn’t maintain their demanding career and be a mum, I set out to create my own business working from home. While I’ve always been the type of person who is very busy, highly organised and internally driven to succeed, it wasn’t long before I realised that working from home with a baby rarely goes to plan. And while I’d heard so many people say don’t try to do anything else except sleep and eat once the baby is here, it’s not so simple when you’re running your own business as there’s no one to pick up t he slack for you!

Over the last 2 years I’ve managed to build a good rhythm and while I’m by no means an expert, I’d like to share a few tips that have helped me work from home while being a mum:

1. Chunk out your day

I find that doing too many things at once can make me more inefficient and left feeling frazzled. I’ve learnt to chunk out my day so that I’m able to focus on one task at a time and complete it to a higher level rather than rushing through millions of things and making errors along the way. For example, I might allocate 2 hours to paying invoices, 1 hour to responding to customer emails and 2 hours to drafting up and scheduling newsletters etc. I will ignore any new emails that come through during times that I haven’t allocated to checking/responding to emails.

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Email Marketing For Small Business Owners

A staggering 69.7% of Internet users state email to be the preferred method of communication from businesses (eMarketer, 2015).  It’s clear that email is where your customers want to be reached.  And the customer is always right.

Email marketing is one of the most direct ways of contacting customers, and building and sustaining strong relationships with them.  Despite the overwhelming argument for email, small business owners still tend to shy away from the channel in favour of simpler, more familiar methods of communication such as Social Media and their website.

With 4,300% ROI – for ever $1 spent on email, businesses receive $4300 in return (ExactTarget, 2014) – email is significantly more effective than SEO, Direct Marketing and Social Marketing.

If you’re starting out with email, follow our easy steps to email success.

Step 1: Do Your Research

Define Your Strategy
Before you embark on this new marketing initiative, take a step back and work out what you’re trying to achieve from it.  Are you looking for leads? Sales? Regular communication with your customers?  Once you’ve got a clear direction in mind, you can use it to inform your overall email strategy.

What’s In it For Customers?

You’re going to get in touch with your customers more regularly, which can only be positive for your business.  But what’s in it for them? Why should they hand over their personal details to you? It’s important to define this right from the beginning.  If you don’t have anything valuable to offer, who’s going to bother to read it, let alone sign up.

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The 5 Documented Habits Successful Entrepreneurs Have

Most new businesses fail. Despite such a high failure rate, some business owners do manage to find success beyond their wildest dreams. However, their success was not a coincidence. Successful entrepreneurs all share certain traits and behaviours that help lead their companies to prominence. Below is a list of five habits that all successful entrepreneurs have.

1. Always Plan for the Future

One habit of successful entrepreneurs is always planning for the future. This includes both the immediate future as well as one, two, five and ten years ahead. True entrepreneurs are never completely satisfied with current successes. When Sir Richard Branson found success with Virgin Records, he was already plotting his entry into the airline business. After finding success with Virgin Airlines, he started plotting his company’s expansion into space travel. Entrepreneurs should always think ahead.

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Healthy Staff = Healthy Profits

Even if you don’t pay your staff sick leave (perhaps they are casual or contract), sick staff cost our businesses in lost productivity. If you are also paying your staff to not work, then this adds up in real dollars to the financial loss if a staff member is sick. Remember also that you may have to get someone to cover them; further adding to the costs. So, let’s look at how you can keep your staff healthy:

• Coming up to winter, offer your staff free flu vaccines. If might cost you $50 or $60 per head, but you’d lose that in just half a day sick. Even better, organise a doctor to come in and immunize the team in the workplace. Check legislation, but I don’t think you can make it compulsory, but by paying for it, and making it easy to do, most staff will welcome the opportunity.

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7 Legal Essentials for Business Online: Part 7 – Discrimination & Accessibility Online

An accessible website should operate the same way for all its users, regardless of their physical ability. In other words, web accessibility is all about inclusiveness; it is about making sure no one is left out because they cannot see, hear, or use a mouse or keyboard like any able-bodied person. With Google’s algorithm change in April 2015, this also means your website has to be mobile friendly.

Advocacy groups argue that having an inaccessible website is discrimination and violation of human rights. Some have even gone on to file high-profile lawsuits against multinational companies like Target, Sydney Olympic Committee, AOL and others receiving favorable decisions in court. These cases were able to set some important precedents so that if your site is not yet optimized for disabled users, your company may be at risk of civil litigation.

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How to Get Rid Of Unnecessary Internal E-mails

Do you wish you could get more e-mails every day?  I didn’t think so!  Today I would like to share with you a simple strategy on how you can get back control.

I remember a couple of years ago I was about to deliver a keynote presentation when the CEO of the company asked if it would be OK if he could quickly make an announcement.  Well it didn’t turn out to be announcement, it was more like a full on rant!  He walked onto the stage looking a little disheveled and in his hand he had a whole pile of paper, no actually it looked like a ream of paper.  He went on to explain that this was all the e-mail correspondence he had received with regards to one particular project that he wasn’t even involved in! It also turned out that this was a minor project!  What had been happening is everybody had cc’d every single person they could think of who was even remotely involved in the project on any correspondence!

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7 Legal Essentials for Business Online: Part 6 – Anti-Spam Compliance

Anti-spam rules apply to telephone messaging as well as emails. Anti-spam is not just about bulk messaging. It only takes one text message or one email to be found liable for breaches of anti-spam legislation.

If you have a new business and you don’t use one of the common auto-responder or CRM services like Aweber or SalesForce then you might not be complying with anti-spam laws. If you are non-compliant and there are enough complaints made against you, your text or email system can be blocked or cancelled and your whole method of communication disrupted.  Do you want to be blacklisted and lose the trust of your newest customers before you even get a chance to show them what you’ve got?

Being anti-spam compliant is so EASY I am constantly surprised at the businesses that don’t get it right.

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7 Legal Essentials for Business Online: Part 5 – Website Terms and Conditions

If you’ve been following this series of articles you’ll be aware that terms and conditions have been mentioned a couple of times in different contexts, and there is good reason for that. Creating an online business allows you to interact with people all over the world. You no longer have the relative security of watching someone walk through the front door of your store and being able to make a judgment about how you want to behave with them, and how you might expect them to behave.

In an online environment the space is open and accessible 24/7 and you don’t necessarily get to check out your customers before they go to buy. The beauty of being online is that you get to set your own rules, within the context of the laws you chose to apply to your website.  How does this work in practice?

If your business is here in Australia you don’t really want to get involved in a dispute somewhere the other side of the world. You particularly don’t want to get dragged into a court proceeding that is in America, where ridiculous damages claims appear to be the norm. As an aside, did you know that New South Wales is the second most litigious state in the World, behind California?

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Time Management Tips for Small Business Owners

Timemanagement2

Time is money, as they say in business circles. How you spend your time in order to be as productive as possible will determine, in part at least, how successful your business is going to be. If your business is mismanaged, on the other hand, you run the risk of failing entirely.

That’s how important time management is. After all, how can you expect to manage a bigger business when you cannot even handle the rigors of overseeing a small-sized enterprise? In any case, here are some excellent tips that you can use in managing your time with your business properly.

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