Author Archive

Outsourcing, a good idea?

Outsourcing can be a great way to grow your business or it could be a way to destroy your business.  Selecting the right people or company to outsource is important. You can take more work on by using contractors or temp staff, or offer more services by working with other companies. This can increase your business and is good for the people or businesses that you outsource to.

Documents represent your business as well

Have you opened the post to find a letter from a company and thought how terrible it looked? Maybe it looked like the letterhead was photocopied or the paper was cheap and like tissue paper. Or it could have been monotone (black print on the paper no colour). The print looked like the ink or toner was low.

Whatever it was you may have tossed the paper without reading or just gave a cursory glance. Any business has many faces, the people, the website, if there is a shop how the shop looks. People spend a lot of money on those things, but what about the paper that is send out or the presentations that are created?

What does your documents and presentations say about your business? Think about:

  • Letterhead
  • Reports
  • Quotations
  • Invoices
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Proposals

Is motivation all you need?

In my last blog I wrote about keeping motivation up for long periods of time.  But is this going to guarantee success? No.

There was an article in the business insider online magazine that was quite blunt about it, if motivation or visualisation was all we needed why was everyone not millionaires and happy? Because if you don’t have something else then your chances of making it are slim.

I have been talking about this thing for years, it is skill.  You can have all the motivation in the world but if you do not have the skills you need you are probably not going to make it.  I say probably because there are a very few cases in which someone makes it by chance but can they replicate that success over and over again, no. Those who can replicate success are those who have both the drive and skill.  Drive is just another way of saying that their motivation is high.

Keeping your motivation up

Do you find that you lose momentum or have a lot of unfinished projects or business idea’s that you have not actioned?

How can you keep your motivation high?

It is different for each of us. I was sent a video by the guys at Market Samurai who put it best. Most of us cannot live for long on self control (the debate over having your favourite desert or abstaining) but if we have the right motivation we can do something indefinitely. Over a year ago a friend of mine and her husband decided to move abroad. they were planning to move in July of last year. She wanted to quit her job several months before so she could concentrate on packing, moving and finalising things.

New Year, New focus, or not…

As most people I am writing about the New Year.  As with New Year resolutions we should evaluate our business and see if there are things that we should be doing or need to change about how we do business or get business.  Re evaluate what you are doing, how much time things take and what they are doing for the business.

Advertising

Do you know how much business that ads and other types of advertising is bringing you? If you advertise in print as well as online media it is always good to find out which one is bringing you more business.  There are a lot of stats that I have heard over the years and most of us know that you can’t place one ad and expect that your door to be inundated with new customers. But on the other hand if you have been advertising for years and have only had one or two clients from it, does the cost outway the profit?

Just start that business you have always wanted!

I have heard people who talk, sometimes for years about having their own business but they never do it.  One of my friends has talked about it since I met her over 4 years ago but she has not yet done much.  Do you talk or think about starting your own business but have not?

Why?

Do you feel you need to know more in order to start your business? There are a lot of people who do research and reading about having a business but never feel they know enough. There are different types of businesses, it depends on the type whether you need to know a lot or nothing when you start.

Working at home balance

Some people seem to find working at home really easy, but there has to be a balance.  If you work at home it can be easy to start working early, and then carry on through until it is time for bed, especially if you live alone.

For those who have to stop working at certain times because of a specific task that needs to be done, like pick up the kids from school, you know how important it is to not let time rush by.  Mastering time is very important.  One of my closest friends sets alarms constantly so that she knows when a task was supposed to be finished.

Dressing for success

Have you notice someone in the crowd before and thought, they must be a lawyer or consultant or something like that? It might be the opposite; you saw someone and thought they looked very scruffy so they must do something like gardening or IT.

We all make snap decisions based on less than 30 seconds and yes dress is a part of it. One of my friends is a groovy rock chick, but only in her personal life, business she looks completely different, suits and very conservative, but outside of business she wears the tight jeans, high heeled boots and sequin t-shirts.

It is worth investing in clothes for that first meeting.  I have clothes that I do not wear other than for work or networking, my “uniform” is coordinates, not usually suits unless I visit a client that the work dress is suit for all (yes there are some out there). That does not mean if you are a gardener you should invest in a suit or that you should wear your dirty jeans and t-shirts to a networking event or to visit a client for a meeting.

Should you spend a fortune on your first website?

As usual the answer is not a straight yes or no. Some of what you need to consider are:

-is it your primary place of business?
-What kind of site is it?
-What features do you need?

It you are an online business, then your website is your shop front and needs to be designed as such. Thought needs to go into the look and feel, as well as the features you want. It you have premises then the website should reflect it but not give a false impression. For example if your shop is all clean lines monochrome should the website be multicolored?

To Buy an iPad or Tablet PC, or not?

Have you been thinking about buying a Tablet but not sure whether to pull out the money for an iPad or going for a cheaper Android tablet. It can be a tough decision. Some choose because they do not want to buy Apple or they don’t want to spend as much. Others may choose to buy the on that is flash and trendy.

What you should be looking at is how you are going to be using it. I had not intended to buy an iPad, was going to get an android tablet. I have used PDA’s for years and needed to get a new one every 2 years because they die (and I do mean die with no sign of power or flicker of life) or they keep crashing. I never spent more than £300 because I felt they would not last anyway so why spend more.

Do I have to buy expensive software?

The short answer is No, the long answer is that it depends. Before you spend hundreds of pounds on new software or upgrades look at how you use your software.

Make a list of all the features that you use or would like to use. Then google some of them. If it is an alternative to Microsoft Office there are several, one that is of note is Open Office. It is a free office package and does the basics.

This means that you can download Open Office and try it, see if it has all the features that you need. Give it a week or two because it is slightly different then Microsoft so you need to give yourself enough time to get used to it. Then see if you can use it to do everything that you need to do. Documents can be saved in Microsoft Office formats (Word, Excel and PowerPoint)

What happens on the web stays on the web, or not?

There have been many cases of people who put something onto the web thinking that no one would find it, only to find that it comes back to haunt them. When you tweet, blog, add comments and write in other sites those words can be seen by more people than you think.

Many years ago it was email, someone would send a private email and the recipient would forward on, and it would be forwarded on etc until it went around the world. Now people write short comments, or long blogs that is attached to their name.

Do you or your staff need training?

If you needed a contract written you would seek the advice of a professional, right? Training is as important investment as seeking the right insurance or legal advice. In order to get the most from your computers and staff you need to ensure you are using them efficiently.

How to get a custom picture beside your comment

It you read a lot of blogs you will notice that the comments at the bottom may have pictures beside them. Some are generic, like the monsters you see on this blog, some are customised. Mine for example is my networking picture . How is this done?

Easy when you know how. Start by visiting a site called gravitar.com you can create a free account that you can associate different email addresses with specific pictures.

Setting prices

When you quit your job and set up a business deciding how much to charge can be an issue. In my industry as with many others, quite a lot of people don’t start out by finding their own direct clients but work through an agency who will tell them how much they will get. Whether this is a reasonable amount depends on how much is offered.

For years, too many than I like to admit, I accepted those rates and lived month to month always needing more days. By finding clients direct and setting your own rates you will be in control of your business.