Are you Harnessing Social Media for your Business?

 

Social media is constantly changing and so is the way that we use each different platform. Despite its ever-evolving nature, social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and your business should be jumping on board to see where it could take you.

Different social media platforms work well for different businesses, so it’s important to take the time to consider each platform carefully to decide which one will work the best for your business.

Facebook

Many of us have our businesses listed on Google – after all, it is one of the first places potential customers will look. Facebook allows you to provide all the usual information – business hours, location, descriptions, reviews and images of premises etc – with the added bonus of interactivity.

Facebook lets your customers interact with you through events, photos, uploading their own reviews and messaging you directly to get their answers. Facebook is a great hub for interactivity and, after Google and your website, it’s one of the first places your potential customers will go to find out more about your business.

Instagram

Instagram is especially useful if your business is product-based. A well-shot photo of your product may just catch the eye of a potential customer. The platform relies heavily on hashtags, which means that your image has the potential to make a big splash in the Instagram world.

Out of all the popular social media platforms, Instagram provides the most scope for creativity, which means that you can let your business personality shine through visually.

Instagram also offers business pages which means you can gain insight into how your followers are responding to your content and it provides an option for your followers to easily send you an email to find out more.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is useful for building your professional network and sharing news about your business. The platform is perfect when you’re looking to grow your business and find new staff and it’s also a great tool to check up on your competitors!

LinkedIn also provides rooms for articles – formerly known as Pulse – an extension of the platform which allows you to write your own long-form content and share with your network – this is perfect, especially if your own website doesn’t support a blog.

There are plenty of other platforms out there that could be right for your business. Snapchat and Twitter have been useful for businesses that like to update immediately or show behind the scenes information, while YouTube is great for sharing videos highlighting events or even create ‘how-to’ videos for your products.

Using social media is all about getting your name out there, growing both your professional network and your customer network and, most of all, having a bit of fun with your business.

At Bx, we’d love to know how you’re using social media to boost your business – if you’re still unconvinced on the topic of social media, try talking it over with some like-minded peers at one of our networking groups to see how others are harnessing social media. Visit http://bxbusinessnetworking.com.au/

Should you bother with email marketing for your business?

Email is one of the oldest social media platforms, but it’s still in regular use today. Many people aren’t convinced that email marketing is the way to go, thinking their emails will just get lost amongst all the everyday email chaos, but we have three great reasons why emails are the right choice for your business.

Keeping it professional

social media marketing

Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Snapchat all have their place and each of them can work wonders when used appropriately for your business, but none of them can hold a candle to a good, sleek, professional email. Everyday, 269 billion (Redacti) emails are sent and it’s still the preferred method for businesses to communicate – either with other businesses or their customers.

You get to show your personality through your social media accounts, but your email is where everything comes together in one professional piece of communication.

Bringing in sales

Emails have come a long way in the last 20 years and despite all the new social media platforms and complicated marketing techniques, email marketing still comes out on top with a conversion rate of 66% (DMA). Not only can you provide your customers with email-only deals, you can send them wherever you want them to go through interactive links in the body of your email.  These direct links mean that customers never get lost or distracted in the tangled, interwoven web.

The biggest advantage to email marketing is your ROI – for every dollar that you spend, you get $38 in returns (DMA). Considering that most email newsletters are free or extremely cheap to create, the ROI is next to none.

Staying in touch with customers

Facebook and other social media platforms can be daunting – plenty of people expect you to be updating daily and that pressure can be a little overwhelming. Email is a little less demanding – you can send out an eNews as little or as much as you prefer. You might feel like you don’t have enough updates to include on social media each week or day, it’s almost certain that you will have enough business news to share at the end of the month.

It’s a great way to keep in touch with your customers, remind them of your deals and just update them with your wins and, considering emails have three times more users than Facebook and Twitter combined, it seems like a no-brainer (Kissmetrics)

How have you seen email marketing boosting your business? If you’re still not sure that email marketing is worth your time, consider joining one of our networking groups to find out more about how other business owners are using emails to create more opportunities for your business. Visit http://bxbusinessnetworking.com.au/

How to be more decisive in your business

How to be more decisive in your business

Everyone struggles with making decisions. There can be a lot at stake, especially when it comes to making business decisions but these high stakes are exactly why your business needs someone decisive at the helm.

The 3 traits of a decisive person

Focused – A decisive person has their eye on what’s best for the business in the long-run, not just what will benefit them tomorrow or what will be best for them personally.

Confident – Once they make their decision, they stick by it. This doesn’t mean they can’t admit that they may have chosen the wrong path, but they are confident that they were convinced their choice was the best decision at the time.

Well-prepared – They are ready for the consequences of their decisions, whether they are positive or negative. They’ve thought their decision through completely.

So how do we cultivate those traits?

  • Be educated: know everything there is to know about your business so that you know how your decision will affect every department. Be across the money, the sales, the administration, even if you don’t usually dabble in those areas.
  • Speak to others: you are not the first person to ever make a difficult decision. There is no need to pour your heart out to everyone you meet, but speaking to fellow business owners and finding out what they decided in similar positions can help you to discover the pros and cons to your possible decisions.
  • Explore your options: write down a list of pros and cons for your decisions, conduct ‘what if?’ scenarios. Do what you can to explore every option fully, leaving no stone unturned. There’s no need to overthink it and create mountains out of molehills but being thorough is essential.
  • Have a long-term goal: sometimes, decisions can cause setbacks in the immediate future but will actually benefit your business in the long run. Having the ability to look past the ‘immediate’ to work towards a bigger goal can help you to make the right decision, rather than the easy one.

Whatever you choose, be committed to your choice. Your business needs someone who is decisive and committed to making the right, and sometimes difficult, decisions. You can guarantee that you will make mistakes; it’s part of the process of decision-making.

If your business has some difficult choices ahead of it, we find it’s better not being done is isolation. Like-minded peers can be great sounding boards, have you thought about joining one of our supportive business networking groups?  Visit http://bxbusinessnetworking.com.au/

 

Small Steps For Big Goals

Small Steps for Big Goals

How often are we told to ‘dream big’, ‘reach for the sky’ and ‘make your dreams a reality’? These overused phrases may stir up motivation for some people, but even with the inspiration, it can be hard to know where to begin and how to tick off those big goals on our list. For many of us, our goals dissolve into failures. So how can we stop this cycle of dreaming big and failing big?

The Problem?

It is natural to be scared of big goals. Seeing them written down on a piece of paper is scary – because you’ll actually have to try and do something about it. We become unlikely to achieve the big goals, because we don’t want to start. We’re all lazy – it’s a common trait. Big goals require a lot of work and we shy away from that.

Most of all, we’re scared of failing. The bigger the goal, the bigger the failure and the more we will have to go back to our family and friends with our tail between our legs.

Despite our fear of failure and our laziness, we continue to write down big goals and we continue to ignore our most obvious path to success – small goals.

How do we fix it?

Most big goals will have obvious smaller steps you can take to start moving towards success. Think of your big exams at the end of high school; no one in their right mind would have walked into the exam room with absolutely no knowledge of what they were about to face. There were preliminary exams to prepare you, study days and classes, not to mention the 13 years of schooling prior to putting your pen to paper on that day, leading you towards the big goal of passing your final exams.

Each day you came to school, ready to learn, was a day that you moved closer towards that goal. It seems simple – that’s because it is.

Many of us tend to get in the bad habit of performing one big push at the end to try and get our goals over the line. Unfortunately, most of us fail when we do that. It’s actually a lot easier and more effective to do a lot of little things more often.

Smaller goals also work in favour of our fear of failure. The possibility of failing a small goal is much less daunting than failing a big one and there is always the option of trying again tomorrow. When we do succeed, which is more likely since these small goals are attainable, we celebrate our wins and gain the momentum we need to tackle the big goal.

Write down your big goal and then spend some time breaking it down; what can you do over the course of a year, a quarter, a month or a day to keep moving towards that goal.

A new mindset

At the end of the day, our big and small goals need to work together to get us where we want to go. Our big goals may not get off the ground if we don’t put the work in and get momentum but our small goals won’t get us to where we want to go if we don’t have a big goal so we can see where we’re going.

One of the major ways to achieve your business goals is to ensure you’re kept accountable. It can be informal – such as with a peer in your networking sphere – or more structured through a mentor. Start achieving your business goals, get in touch with Bx on 1300 068 229, or find out more about what we do here http://www.businessforlife.com.au/ProgramFindOutMore 

 

Time to Ditch the Fear of Failure

Time to ditch the fear of failure

Everyone views failures differently – what might be a triumph for one could be a major disappointment for another. You may have experienced this in school while your classmates shielded their results from one another, knowing that everyone’s standards are slightly different. Failure has a lot of negative connotations but perhaps surprisingly, it can be taken positively too.

There are many, many sufferers of atychiphobia – the fear of failure – but we can safely bet that, if you’ve embarked on your business journey, you are not one of these people. Those who are scared of failure often don’t even try at all, in case failure rears its head.

Realistically, failure is rife in the business world. Running from it may mean that you miss out on a lot of opportunities for your business to grow. It’s also not healthy to run head first into every opportunity recklessly, without considering the implications. As with everything, approaching failure is an art and requires a great deal of balance.

You will fail…..get used to it.

It’s undeniable! Growing a business comes with its own unique set of risks, meaning that failure is definitely on the cards.

In 1955, two men created a type of putty which was intended to be wallpaper cleaner. They seriously misjudged the demand and ended up with a product that seemed to be a huge failure. By chance and a few convenient connections, the product ended up on the table at a nursery school where it was an instant hit. The children loved it and found it a much better material to use when they were moulding their imaginations into something physical. The product became a huge success, so much so that there isn’t anyone alive who doesn’t know the name Play-Doh and associate the brand with happy memories.

Failure doesn’t always directly lead to a major success as it did in the case of Play-Doh and you can’t always physically use your failures. You can, however, always use the things you learn from your failure.

What doesn’t kill you……

We’re sure you’ve heard every failure cliché under the sun. We all know that failure is supposed to make those successes even sweeter. We know that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and we know that failure is just another word for experience. The most frustrating thing about these clichés? They’re all true, to some extent. So, how do we start taking them seriously?

The best thing you can do for your business is to take failure as it comes and not get knocked down and permanently defeated. There’s no need to glorify failure – we all know that failing is disappointing and demoralising – but there is a need to treat it like the lesson that it is. Dusting yourself off from failure means that you’re giving yourself another chance to get it right, maybe not next time, or the time after that but at some point down the track. It takes time to look at failure as a positive, but your business will thank you for it.

There is no denying that failure is scary, but using the failure to grow your business is a true art. If you’re ready to master the art, we would love to hear from you. Call Bx on 1300 068 229, or find out more about what we do here http://www.businessforlife.com.au/ProgramFindOutMore

Does Rejection Make Your Business Stronger?

Does rejection make your business stronger?

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ll know that having clients choose your competitors is part-and-parcel of the job – even the biggest and seemingly successful businesses in the world come up against clients who will choose someone else over them. So what happens when you come up against rejection and what do you do next? Let’s find out:

A few bad apples don’t need to spoil the bunch…..

Rejection needs to be expected. It happens! Maybe it’s a fault in your business or maybe it’s a hang up on your potential client’s side. Either way, expect there to be a few bad apples along the way and don’t get too hung up on it or take it personally. It’s important to have long-term goals too. Coming face-to-face with rejection can be debilitating if you’re not sure where to go from here. If you have a goal to acquire 20 new clients this year, it becomes easier to look beyond the one rejection and move on to achieve your goals.

Keep the conversation open…..

Just because your potential client has said no this time, it doesn’t mean they’ll say no next time. Any number of things could happen in between now and then causing them to return to you, so you want to make sure the relationship you have begun stays positive and isn’t terminated just because they choose someone else. Acting negatively towards the client and rejecting them in return significantly slims down the chance that they’ll return to you next time. Treating them mean to keep them keen might work in the dating world but it won’t go down well in the business world.

Ask for feedback and take it on board…..

Perhaps it was your pitch that didn’t quite hit the mark or maybe your competitors are simply offering something better. You’ll never know if you don’t ask. There’s no need to be overbearing; a simple, kind question to see what their decision was based on can be very telling, even without pressing for too many details. If there’s something you can change or improve upon based on their feedback, take note and take action. It could mean you come up against less rejection later on.

Celebrate your successes…..

Rejection comes around often, but so do successes. Remember your successes often and feel free to pat yourself on the back without shame! Note what works well and keep it all in mind when you do encounter rejections. The rejection shouldn’t defeat your drive in your business, so have a collection of success stories on hand to draw on and boost your morale.

Rejection might seem like a door is slamming in your face but it may actually push you in a different direction, toward more success.

If you’re ready to start bouncing back from rejection and turn it into a success, we’d love to hear your business story and help you to move forward from here. Call Bx on 1300 068 229, or find out more about what we do here http://www.businessforlife.com.au/ProgramFindOutMore

 

How to Network Without The Icky Factor

How to Network Without The Icky Factor

Matt Alderton, Bx, Business for life, networkingDoes the idea of “Networking” conjure visions of eating bad canapés and lurching from one uncomfortable and superficial conversation to the next?

Have you ever attended a “Networking” event and felt like everyone was just in a big race to see who could hand out the most business cards first?

I have. And that is just plain “Icky.”

In fact, a scientific study recently featured in the Harvard Business Review has proven that professional networking actually makes people feel dirty.

Yep, seriously… it makes people feel physically dirty – like they want to take a shower afterwards!

Researchers suggest this is because we generally think about morality in terms of cleanliness and most of the time, professional networking feels very “contrived” and it increases people’s feelings of inauthenticity and immorality (hence the whole “feeling dirty” thing).

That’s why, even though we HerBusiness gives members loads of opportunities to connect with others  – we are definitely NOT about that kind of “Icky” Networking.

We showed that kind of networking the door years ago. What the same study DID find is that Networking had a positive association with job performance.

That means, whilst it can be great for your business in terms of winning new business, making useful connections and expanding your reach, most of the time you’re going to feel pretty uncomfortable with it.

So, how can you get all the benefits of networking without the “icky-ness” factor?

Look for organisations that offer alternatives.

Instead of hyped up, short term meet and greets, seek out interactions that have depth, authenticity and a good dose of practical advice and humour thrown in.

You’ll be creating relevant and vibrant connections with other business owners who will be good for your business – either as valued clients, suppliers or cheerleaders.

I like to think of the word network means “support team”.

Look for networks low on “Icky” and high on real conversations, solid advice and wholehearted support.

I like the way that Corryn Barakat of Milk and Love explained a meeting that she really liked…

“It’s the most grounding and invigorating forum I’ve attended as a Small Business Owner. All of the attendees provided useful points of view I hadn’t previously considered, and the size of the session means it felt intimate – like a group of your best friends getting together over coffee!”

So, look for a community where you can get real, valuable support from like-minded business owners.

Suzi Dafnis is the CEO of HerBusiness, which teaches women business owners how to market, operate and growth their business. Learn more at herbusiness.com/about

Small Business and the 2017-18 Budget

Last night we saw our fourth Budget handed down from the current Government and there were no major surprises for small business owners. Yet, was it enough? As a small business owner, is there enough being done to drive your profitability, resilience and long-term success by the Government?

 

Why Small Business?

I am often asked by people why the Government should spend resources and funds on small business. ‘Shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the business owner to achieve their own success?’. This is not a simple answer, and the same could be asked of all Australians. Before we dive into the 2017-18 Budget, let’s take a look at WHY small business is important to the Australian Economy.

  1. Small business employs more than 60% of working Australians – According to figures compiled by Saul Eslake, and discussed in an article by Adam Creighton in The Australian:
    1. Businesses that employ less than 20 employs approximately 45% of private sector employees
    2. Businesses with 20-199 employees employ approximately 25%, and
    3. Businesses with 200+ employees, approximately 20%.
  2. Small business is paying the way for Australia
    1. The ABS reports in 2015-16 taxes on income accounted for 57% of revenue (across all levels of Government).
    2. Taxes on the provision of goods and services accounted for over 23%

Not only is small business paying company and other taxes, they are paying the wages of 60% of the Australian workforce, contributing to the PAYG tax collected by the ATO.

It’s clear that small business is a key player in the revenue generated by the Government, yet are the measures to support and strengthen this critical sector our economy – the ‘engine room’ as it is so often referred to – enough to ensure this sector becomes stronger and more resilient.

Last night the ABC reported that 3 out of the last 4 quarters had seen negative growth in the retail sector – a significant segment of small business. Even the cafe and restaurant sector, has seen negative growth.

With greater than 50% of small businesses failing, small business needs more than a tax break on profits to create long-term growth and sustainability. Dun and Bradstreet’s Failed Businesses Report, shows that in 2016 the ACT recorded its highest number of business failures in three years.

Interestingly, small business may make up a significant portion of the Australian economy, but how much of that is actually collected? The Australian reported in an article by Robert Gottliebsen, the ATO is owed $19 billion in overdue tax, of which $13 billion is owed by small businesses with turnover up to $2 million.

The engine room is clearly struggling.

The Budget Wrap-Up

Okay, so it’s not all doom and gloom for the small business sector. Although I don’t see it as a clear win for small business, there are still a number of measures that will bolster small business.

  1. $20k instant asset tax write-off – this has been maintained for the 2017-18 FY for businesses of up to $10m. No surprises here.
  2. Red tape reduction incentive – States and Territories have been promised a $300m  payment over 2-years towards innovation. Let’s see how this filters through to small business.
  3. Small businesses employing foreign workers on 457 Visas will now be slugged with a $1,200 per year per worker, along with a one-off $3,000 payment. This replaces the need to report training spend required of 1-2% as previously required. I can see this impacting the hospitality segment especially, with a high number of foreign workers, and incredibly tight margins.
  4. The Black Economy – a crack down on the ‘cash economy’ is on its way. Businesses still operating by under-reporting, falsifying records and illegally avoiding paying tax are under threat. Let’s face it – it’s about time. If you are operating this way, you deserve to be caught – you are lining your pockets at the expense of all Australians. This will include businesses that pay cash to employees and businesses that don’t declare cash payments. Next time you walk into a local cafe that doesn’t have EFTPOS…ask for a receipt.

 

What is missing?

If the Government is serious about creating a strong, resilient and sustainable small business sector, we need to focus on two key elements.

  1. Funding for small business – cashflow is the number one issue for small business. The bank’s pledge small business funding, yet it is not accessible to the majority of small business. There needs to be a State or Federal solution to this.
  2. Education for small business owners – the more I work with small business owners, navigating the many challenges and opportunities that they encounter, the more obvious it is. Small business owners need training and education in the areas outside of their trade craft. Too often small business owners are expected to be the expert in all areas, accounting, taxation, legal matters, social media and marketing, structuring, systems, HR and so on.Yet, to get professional advice in all these areas is financially unachievable. Training and education is, therefore, essential and should be a high priority for both State and Federal Governments.

There is it, the Budget 2017-18. Hon. Scott Morrison stated in his Budget speech, “…business is responsible for a large part of driving revenue growth for Australia.”

If 4/5 of the budget repair is driven by growth, then business success is fundamental.

Getting Organised Amongst Business Chaos

Everyone is time poor – how often, when you ask someone how they’re doing, do they respond with a simple “busy”? Sometimes, it’s with a smile – after all, being busy in business usually means money is coming in. Other times, their expression is more akin to utter exhaustion – being busy can leave us feeling drained and weary.  How do we get organised amongst all the business chaos?Getting organised in small business

We all have the same 24 hours each day, so how do we make the most of that time, feel organised and avoid becoming depleted of energy along the way?

Of course, there are simple things we can be doing every day to make sure we stay productive, have a great mindset and stay sane amongst all the chaos. Eating healthily, exercising throughout the day, taking scheduled breaks, maintaining a great filing system and using technology to your advantage are all great ways to get the most out of every day and stay organised.

Here at Bx, we strive to be implementing every single one of the above but we are huge fans of using apps and other bits of technology to our advantage.

Why apps to get organised?

Technology is everywhere – there’s no denying it, but instead of treating the influx of technology as a negative, we’ve chosen to treat it as a great opportunity. Apps can integrate with our phones as well as our desktop and keep us organised and productive throughout our days, no matter where we are. Which apps do we swear by?

Asana

Free for up to 15 users, Asana is a project management tool that keeps all your employees on the same page and across every detail of every project. It’s like a to-do list on steroids. It has changed the way we work at Bx in the last few years and turning back won’t be an option.

Life Cycle and Sleep Cycle

Using both these apps together lets you track your days and nights so that you know exactly how you’re using your time and what you need to do to improve your productivity. Life Cycle tracks your days, taking note of where you go and how long you spend doing certain activities. This is great for those workaholics amongst us who don’t even realise they spent 90 hours working this week. Meanwhile, Sleep Cycle tracks how long you sleep as well as the cycles within your sleep and wakes you up when you’re in the lightest stage of sleep.  

Evernote

If you’re carrying around your laptop, phone or tablet anyway, it doesn’t make sense to decide to add a notepad to your luggage so using Evernote is a great way to have the convenience of a notepad combined with the convenience of technology. Evernote allows you to take notes any time just like any other notebook app, but you can pull other documents into the app, videos, photos and snippets from the web to compile a notebook that fully encompasses your vision for whatever you happen to be working on.  Keep it all in the one place so you’re not wasting time searching for that great idea you had last week!

Have you found some great ways to use technology in your business? We’d love to know more about what works for you and your business and help you out by sharing our successes too. Call Bx on 1300 068 229, or find out more about what we do here http://www.businessforlife.com.au/ProgramFindOutMore

 

Do people skills matter in business?

In days gone by, technological expertise was more highly regarded than people skills. It was all about what you could do, not necessarily how you interacted with others while you did it. Now, that attitude has shifted quite dramatically. With technological advances, more and more jobs that involve manual labour are being replaced by automation and machines. People skills are more important than ever!

What are people skills?

Whether they’re referred to as social skills, people skills and interpersonal skills, they are essentially all the same; someone’s ability to communicate and interact with others in a positive way.

Those with people skills often exhibit:

  • Behaviour that builds trust easily
  • A reluctance to involve themselves in drama, power grabbing schemes or gossip
  • Respectful behaviour towards the people around them.
  • Great communication skills when it comes to explaining what they want
  • Tact when it comes to delivering bad or inconvenient news
  • Fantastic listening skills
  • A willingness to participate

Fortunately, artificial intelligence hasn’t grasped the concept of emotional intelligence just yet, so now is the chance to be developing our people skills in our businesses and making our businesses known for their exceptional interpersonal skills.

Not only do social skills really improve the relationship between owners and employees or amongst the employees themselves, these skills can also help when it comes to customer interactions or networking with fellow business owners.

How can we develop people skills?

Consciously considering what you’re good at when it comes to interacting with others in your day-to-day business life can be a great place to start developing those people skills. Awareness might be the first step but there is a multitude of different practical ways to be better at interacting with people:

  • Stand out! Are you prone to lurking in the corners at networking events or letting all your customers deal with an online feedback form rather than being accessible? Get out there and make yourself known to other people – just by taking the step towards being accessible is an improvement.
  • Ask personal questions. These shouldn’t be so personal that they make the other person feel uncomfortable. Simply asking what they’re passionate about or what they would do if they won the lottery could open them up and build trust between you.
  • Accept offers. Have you ever been at someone’s house or office when they’ve offered you a glass of water or a snack? How often do you say yes? Saying yes puts your host at ease, makes them feel like they’re being useful and it breaks the ice ever so slightly – if you’re not already in the habit of saying yes, now is the time to start.
  • Listen. It seems simple enough, but it’s one of the hardest things to do. Next time you’re in conversation with someone, listen intently, make eye contact, don’t interrupt and think about what has been said to you before you speak.
  • Ask for feedback. Not only does this give the other person a chance to talk, it shows that you’re willing to improve and it’s another way to build trust in business relationships – you care about what they have to say, and they’ll care about what you’re providing.

People skills are more important than ever – challenge yourself to start trying some of these ways to improve your own interpersonal skills and see how your business benefits from the stronger relationships you form.

Are you harnessing and developing your existing people skills to take your business to the next level? We’d love to speak with you about how we could help your business to improve its performance. Call Bx on 1300 068 229, or find out more about what we do here http://www.businessforlife.com.au/ProgramFindOutMore