Information Technology

Five quick communication tips

Here are five quick communication tips for new businesses that, from recent experience of talking to very unhappy customers, more established service providers seem to have forgotten.

  1. Do invest in an answerphone. It may seem an incredibly obvious thing to say and do but I’m still amazed at the number of business owners/managers that think it’s fine to let customer hang on the end of a phone until they lose the will to live. Customers do not want your product or service only between 10am and 4.30pm. Make sure you have some way they can leave you a message so you can get back to them – or risk losing them to a competitor.

The five website copy crimes you should avoid committing

Your website is your hardest-working employee. No days off, no holiday and it sells for you even while you sleep. You should make sure the site is doing the best job it can and not turning people off with simple mistakes that could be costly.

Take this checklist and go through each page of your site and fix any errors you spot. You don’t even have to do it all at once – because Google favours sites that are updated regularly you could take 20 minutes to do a page a week and reap the SEO benefits.

Should we be mystified by web designers

When starting out in business you have so much to learn and discover.  It can be overwhelming, so when you decide you need a website it can be easy to hand it over to someone else. The number of people who have done this and regret it later are increasing.

Anyone can say they are a web designer, especially with all the easy software that is out there. Even Dreamweaver is much easier than it used to be.  I have designed my website myself for years, from my first business website to my current ones, using lots of different software from Dreamweaver, Mambo, Joomla, WordPress and Fusion.

With Banks not lending what alternative sources of funding are there?

This is the question that many SME’s are asking in ever increasing numbers. If the Banks will not lend to them who will? The answer is that there are many alternative sources of funding that many people are totally unaware of. There are even some products from main stream lenders that seem to be forgotten. Here are just a few examples, but remember these are ‘alternative’ sources and as such are more expensive than High Street lenders.

Should forums be used for doing homework?

I look at a lot of forums or applications. People ask questions and answers are given, like if you need to create a complicated excel calculation for work you can post the question about how to create the calculation and someone usually posts the solution.

But should students be allowed to do this?

It reminds me of an owner of a large business networking site who was so happy that her daughter was giving answers to homework to all her friends online.  Does this not defeat the object of education?

Why do so many British Companies ignore R & D Tax Credits?

The Government wants to give money back to British Companies that undertake research and development. Unfortunately many Managing Directors and Finance Directors and even their Accountants concentrate on the word ‘research’ and not on the word ‘development’ and so believe that this means that they will not qualify. In many cases this will not be true and so they are missing out on this very useful source of funding. If you are developing a new product or service, or making improvements to existing products and services you may very likely be eligible. Even software companies have been successful.

The scheme is designed to encourage and reward innovation. It allows innovative companies to either recover Corporation Tax paid and or receive a rebate of the NIC/PAYE generated by the business. Most first time claimants are able to also submit a claim for the last two completed year ends.
The average claim in the first year is £40k

I know your Facebook password

This post is by Russell Parsloe of 4th level IT

OK – I don’t really have your password – but assuming I did, would it just been your Facebook account that would have been compromised, or do you use the same password for twitter, LinkedIn, your email account, your bank? How much damage to your reputation and your business could be wreaked by a few seemingly innocent characters?

I won’t go into the details of how I could get access to your password in the first place – there are many ways – malicious software on your PC, guessing your child/dog/hamster’s name or birthday when answering those security questions many systems have, or even asking you for it in exchange for a free pen (this actually happened at Waterloo Station – over 90% of people gave away their password for a cheap biro)!

to Ipad or not to Ipad?

Ipad 2

Which is your favourite business gadget?

A bit of a personal revelation blog this one. I have long proclaimed to all and sundry that I couldn’t see why anyone would NEED an Ipad  for business. I can see the appeal for gadget freaks and angry bird fanatics, but for serious business use a net book just seemed to be a more practical solution – well to me anyway. I know people proclaim the battery life is the deciding factor, but we all know how rapidly that declines on all Apple products. And my Samsung netbook still gives me a days worth of power without carrying a cable after 3 years of serious use.

For me the lack of a USB port or being able to plug in a projector has precluded the ipad from being  a practical option for me and it would be just a toy (and I’m not saying that I wouldn’t enjoy it as a toy but that’s not the issue here). Now I like my gadgets and I love my Itouch and Ipod , not having my Blackberry with me is like losing a limb and my shiny new 3G Kindle is the best present I’ve ever received ( and yes I admit that I carried more chargers with me on holiday than most families!)

But this holiday I made the conscious decision to leave my netbook at home. The holiday was supposed to be a complete break away. So the compromise was that I would set my emails up on my itouch and spend no more than 1 hour per day on that or the phone as I needed to to keep things ticking over back at home. My other half brought along his ipad and iphone. By the 3rd days away I’d set my emails up on his ipad. Why? Well, simply – the ease of use.

Who owns your website?

I was talking to a potential client today about helping her to create a website. She already has a website that a website designer has created but if turns out she may not own that site.

What does this mean? Who is the registered name of the domain? Who is the name listed on the hosting?

Why does this matter?
Some might try and tell you if does not matter. But is there a difference in owning a house or renting it?

Image: worradmu / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As long as things go well and the designer does what you like all is well, but the minute things go wrong you could have nothing but problems. Just because someone dazzles with techno babble does NOT mean they know what they are talking about. In fact that is usually a large red warning flag that they have to mystify in order to get clients rather their have the client understand what they are doing.

Before signing or the line find out who owns the site, both the Intellectual Property and whose name is or the domain and hosting. Also -find out about payment terms. Can you break the contract or are you obligated to pay for a set number of months or years.

Revitalise your mojo!

Reached a dead end with your business plan? Can’t concentrate? Work all a bit too much aggro? The dream of running your own company turning into a nightmare?

You’ve lost your mojo; you’re in a bit of a internal-focus slump and, you’ll be glad to know, there’s a very simple way out of it.

That demotivated, I-can’t-get-anything-right-today feeling can be quickly and effectively dispersed by changing your focus from inward to outward.

Instead of thinking about what you and your business can or can’t do, take a time out and concentrate instead on what someone else is doing or has done. In business, it’s always useful to know what your competitors are up to so spend some time finding out what’s going on in the wider world. In doing so, you turn your attention and focus outward and as a result you’ll experience a gush of positive energy.

Only you will know how much time you’ll need to do this – just be prepared to allow yourself as long as necessary to turn your attention fully to something or someone (or some business) other than you or yours. You may need to spend ten minutes, an hour, half a day…however long it takes, you’ll find this is time well spent.

There’s an ‘ugly frog’ in the room

Having a brainstorming meeting with my good friend Michelle Dalley (www.creatingmedia.co.uk), she asked me what my ‘ugly frog’ was? I had never before heard this expression and Michelle explained that in business everyone has their own ugly frog, something that sits in the corner of the room that you don’t want to face or deal with. For many, its paperwork, you know you have to do it but you will do anything you can to avoid facing it.

Mine is without doubt making sales calls, I love meeting people face to face and am happy to do this all day long but I will do everything possible to avoid making a cold call.

So how do we embrace this and turn our ugly frog into a handsome prince?

Be a presentation sensation

Think about this: you can’t NOT communicate – even saying nothing says something about you. What you say, the way you say it and the way you present yourself are components of a complicated code the people around you read without realising it.

Good idea, then, to make sure that what you communicate is positive, interesting, appealing, and attractive, especially if you are the face of your business.

So it’s a complete mystery to me why more people don’t take the time and trouble to develop a decent presentation style. Making a presentation, speaking in public, standing up on front of a group of people and communicating some information – these are the occasions for which you have the time to prepare, to practise, to hone your skills.

And if you’re prepared to put the effort in to making your presentations more effective, more interesting, more compelling, you’ll get the benefit of a brilliant side-effect.

You become more confident, more effective, more interesting, more compelling.

Here are three dead-cert ways to improve the way you deliver a presentation:

1.    Practise visualising yourself making a great presentation. If you’re nervous about public speaking, and lots of people are, your negative side has contributed to many a negative mind-movie in which you make a complete mess of standing up in front of people and saying your piece. Turn the tables by consciously creating a mind-movie showing you completely captivating your

How to create SUSTAINABLE CHANGE in your future (Part 2 of 2)

“How can you say that the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon?”

 

  This post is by Brian Light                                                            

Your KNOW HOW “know how to get to where you want to go”
Getting this step right means making ‘real decisions’ and deciding what it is you’re going to achieve and then, and only then, close off all other possibilities. 

 

How much do you really want to get there?

  • It doesn’t matter what your goals, dreams or outcomes are . . . if you do nothing about them
  • It doesn’t matter how much you talk about changing you company . . . if all you do is talk
  • It doesn’t matter what changes you want in your life . . . if all you do is delay and delay

 

So it’s time for you to ask yourself, privately and honestly and with absolute certainty:

  • What dreams, what hopes or what ambitions
  • What team openness, what project success or what professional fulfilment
  • What new confidence, what relationships or what decisions

 

How much do you really want it will decide whether you do anything about it or not, and when?  If you don’t want it then do nothing about it, that’s fine, because it’s your decision.

 

Your KNOW HOW “your skills gap”
There are two areas that your professional COACH will help and support you: 

  • Your Skills Gap
  • Your Company’s Skills Gap

 

Your Skills Gap
One-to-One Management Coaching has, over the years and using coaching techniques, helped and supported numerous Business Owners, Directors and Managers who:

  • have challenges with getting the best from their people
  • recognise the need to improve business performance
  • have a problem with getting steady and consistent growth from their company
  • feel that they could be making a more leadership contribution

 

Each coaching session lasts three hours and whilst there is a clearly defined outcome(s) for the programme each session will take into account the clients specific requirements or difficulties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your DO IT “just do it”
The final step in the formula is the simplest piece of common sense.

 

  • Implementing your dreams is the most difficult thing to complete successfully and requires many important values.
  • The one value that is amongst the most important is persistence’

 

Thought:  “individuals who succeed at anything, be it business or relationships always show persistence that wipes failure off their radar.”

 

Therefore, whenever you do anything ask yourself: “does it help me, my team, my company?”

If it helps, do more of the same; if it doesn’t, do something else.

 

It’s all about me……..

It’s not actually all about me this one, but interesting how people in a pressured working environment neglect to remember that there is actually  ’no I in team’….

How do your motivation levels effect your work?

Fact – low motivation affects confidence levels, it affects how we feel, how others around us perceive us and how we behave towards clients.

It is an art being consistent and managing how you feel, but it is an important factor to maintaining balance during work. If we understand how our behaviour affects not only how we feel but how it affects people around us then we can work on how we maintain our motivation levels.

How to create SUSTAINABLE CHANGE in your future (Part 1 of 2)

“How can you say that the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon?”

 This post is by Brian Light

                                                                  

YOUR FUTURE – “know where you what to go”

As the boss of you and the boss of your company you are responsible for your future therefore. .

  • Have a massive dream 
    Be very, very clear what the outcome of that dream should be.
  • Focus on what you want not what you don’t want
    This is not merely positive thinking.

If you focus on what you want you’ll move towards it and if you focus on what you don’t want then you’ll move towards that.

  • Reveal your biggest ambitions to a stranger 
    Why? . . . Research from Warwick Business School shows that:
    • If you make a commitment to yourself you have an [8%] chance of seeing it through
    • If you make a commitment to a loved-one it climbs to [18%]
    • If you make a commitment to a stranger, or a business colleague or even a COACH that you don’t see each and every day it soars to a massive [79%]

 

YOUR FUTURE – “go SECURE it”

Coaching provides the space and environment to define WHERE YOU WANT TO GO and explore the way you are NOW (Part 1), provide the tools to enable you to MAKE THE CHANGE and help you DO IT (Part 2) IT

The results of your changed thinking will lead to new behaviours, both in and outside the work environment, and will impact on you and those around you to form the foundation of a new beginning.

The S.E.C.U.R.E. model is the first Coaching Model that provides the important focus, and ongoing support, for you to achieve your vision of your future.

It will support and challenge you through the programme helping you to consider:

 

S tatement:                               What is your real goal expressed in the present and positive tense?

E vidence:                                   How will you know you have achieved your goal?

C ontrol:                                      Is the goal within your control to initiate and maintain it?

U nderstand:                             What are the costs and benefits of reaching your goal?

R esources:                                What resources do you have and what do you need to find?

E xecution:                 When will start and when will you reach success?

 

Your Goals/Outcomes will remain just Dreams if you don’t ‘Plan to Change’.  The SECURE model is the beginning of your journey to change.