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Small Business Revitalization Blog

Small Business Coaching: Revive Your Profits, Revitalise Your Perspectives, Reinvigorate Your People

The New Era of Socially Conscious Business

Today we have a guest post from the very amazing Annie Infinite - creator of Saucy Social Media and author of 'Go Fractal'

Social and digital media have changed the world and business forever! I can say this with absolute authority as this is where I play. No longer can business leaders and owners hide behind closed doors and have immunity from their decisions. Now through the social and digital media channels everyone has a vote, and they are voting whether you are there or not.

Every business, every corporation, government and person is now under a microscope and held up to the light of integrity, globally conscious decision making, engagement with their market, quality control and more. Once more the world has a voice and it is just getting louder.  I for one welcome it with open arms, because it is through the true voice of each of us that change happens.
We welcome this change, the shift to a more aware and globally conscious world!

Here are some of the shifts in business and marketing consciousness that brand a business as a modern one:

1.    Your Company has a Grand Vision of the Future
Not only for the company itself but for the whole world, it stays on track with this vision through every decision it makes. You understand that for every choice made there are not only business consequences and reasons, but there are global ones. Every decision made reflects this mindset.

2.    Your Business is Done with Integrity Daily & Becomes Known for It
To do this a business needs a set of values it does business by.  Every person working in and on that business needs to know about the core values and also do business with and for you in line with those values. Your core values must be so ingrained in your company that you would hire and fire according to those values. Your first step is to figure out the core values of your company, by asking: what do you believe in and what do you stand for? Figure out what is important and do business accordingly.

3.    Your Company Does Business in the Here and Now

Businesses that incorporate this sign of happiness  are aware of trends and opportunities in the here and now. They do not worry  about what happened in the past other than to learn and move forward with new awareness. They do not repeat mistakes and are constantly evolving. Businesses that do business this way are also very aware of the effect of the day to day toil on their emplyees and make room for enjoyment in each and every day.

4.    Your Company Has an Appreciation Mindset

This is not about a grandstanding gesture for public viewing, it is about your company being grateful for its employees, grateful to the companies you do business with and even grateful for your competition and showing that in private and public ways. Does your business only contact an employee or a customer when something is wrong or only when you want to sell them something?

 Do you compliment your employees regularly for the work they do for you? Do you honor your loyal customers out of the blue with some small benefit or just a thank you card to let them know you are grateful for their return custom? Businesses who do this engender loyalty and word of mouth recommendations that help them to grow. "Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, 'make me feel important.' Never forget this message when working with people." – Mary Kay Ash

5.    You Are in a  Business You Love
Doing what you love and turning that into a business is the most satisfying thing you can do to earn a living. When you do business doing what you love you never have to worry about feeling motivated, or surviving the down times. Your excitement levels never lag because you love doing what you are doing so much, you would do it for free.  I believe that when you are in the right business, you will feel very much like you are in love, you will get that thrill in your veins when you work on your plans, you will get goose bumps of excitement as you see your vision coming to fruition...

“The more meaningfully we’re engaged and the more we believe that what we’re doing is meaningful, the more happy we are,” says David Mensink, a psychologist with the student counseling centre at Dalhousie University

6.    Your Business Embraces Change
Staying up to date is just good business, this means listening to what is happening in the market place and to what your customers and audience is saying about your business and your niche. John F. Kennedy said: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

7.     Your Business Makes Time to Celebrate
It only needs to be a small occasion, yet celebrating those small successes paves the way for larger ones, it allows everyone to know you are on track and it allows everyone to become involved with the growth of the company. Happiness is contagious and the happier everyone involved is the better. Great campaigns have been built on a celebration for a company's success and this can be a way for a company to give back to its customers too.

One company I know of has a weekly 'Awesomeness Report" that is collated from every employee at the end of each week, they are asked for a summary of their successes from their time in and out of work and this is published via email to every employee celebrating the small and large successes in the lives of everyone. (That has to be one of the best ideas I have ever heard of!) Think of the movie 'Legally Blonde 2' where Elle introduced the idea of the 'Snap Cup'..

8.  Businesses Actively Seek Ways to Add Value
Giving and sharing is great PR for any company, adding value is a requirement of any company that expects to achieve its goals. Remember giving always comes back to the giver ten-fold, whether you are a company known for giving back to the community, to your employees or to your customers or all three – giving and adding value can only increase the happiness of the company and the culture of your brand. Your business actively seeks ways to enrich the lives of others on the planet who are not as well off, through charity, giving and supporting those who do.

9. Business Can Be Fun!
This is where corporations can take a leaf out of some of the most innovative companies in the world. Innovation and inspiration come from making life fun and fun and happiness can help put things in perspective. Make sure your company is filled with laughter daily. Go take a look at Google's offices and you will get the idea that they value creativity and innovation.

Steve Jobs from Apple said, "Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they're not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."

About Annie:

Annie Infinite helps people find their authentic voice and project it out into the world with integrity, passion and authenticity. Annie Infinite is the owner of Saucy Social Media a social media management, consulting and training company, specialising in the strategic use of social media to get you the results you need: social media auditing, creating social media strategic plans, social media management and education (workshops) and training (in-house) in social media for businesses.

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The Mysteries of (Not) Delivering Value

WARNING:  I'm having a rant today... that's what happens when I put on my 'customer' cap instead of my coaching cap... luckily dear readers, it doesn't happen too often!  There's some valuable lessons in here for us all :)

In conversation with a real estate agent he mentioned they charge $990 + GST to upload a property for sale to 14 websites and put a sign out the front.  This was their cheapest advertising package for selling a home.  

I have an extensive marketing background and a pretty good working knowledge of marketing on the internet.  When I expressed my astonishment at the lack of value, all the fellow could say in response was “I’m the principal, this is our cheapest advertising package”.  It seems his job title was supposed to make this lack of value acceptable?    

He then proceeded to stutter and stammer that writing the copy takes him 2 – 3 hours… I know amazing copywriters who could get it sorted in less than an hour for a grand investment of around $80.  So what exactly are his clients paying for?  Someone to sell their home, or an incredibly expensive copywriter??

Big hint to business owners – you should never be doing work that you could outsource for way less than what you could be earning. You need to spend your time doing what you are best at!  If this guy spent those 2 – 3 hours getting new listings or selling properties his business would be infinitely more profitable.  

 Then there is the question of the 14 websites – at roughly 10 minutes each for uploading pictures and copy that’s just over 2 hours for an admin person – say $40/hr.  Of course, this also assumes it is of value to use those 14 sites.  Most real estate traffic goes through just a couple of main sites – those 14 sites are really awesome for his search engine optimization though!  And how wonderful that his clients pay for him to be “#1 on” as he proudly informed me.  Sounds very impressive… unless you understand what it really means!

Unfortunately, your brand being #1 won’t sell my house.  Most people search by suburb not agent.  Do you not understand your business or do you think your customers are stupid?  Either way that’s not a great value proposition for building a strong business in an industry that is facing tough times.

And lastly there’s the sign for about $150… In total, even my best estimates for marketing costs don’t get much past $350 if the agent is operating efficiently!  So at $990+ that is some profit margin.  Given the extortionate price of housing in our fair country, real estate agents also receive a very generous commission on sales as well.  I know a lot of business owners who would love margins like that!

Now at this point some of you are going ‘what’s wrong with that?’  Isn’t the point of business to make money?  Yes!  Absolutely!  But not in a way that offers no value to your customers or pretty much assumes they are stupid.  The playing field is levelling AND becoming more transparent.  Your business practices need to evolve!

When both you and the customer are satisfied with the deal you will build relationships that will create referrals, repeat business and ultimately business growth – you’ll be irresistible and desirable and you won’t need to charge for something that should be included in the service!  Imagine if that agent had said “we have a basic marketing package that is included free if we sell your house.”  That would have been much more attractive to a prospective seller than what he actually said: “If the client doesn’t pay for marketing up front the price for this service goes up to $1290 + GST.” WOW!  Knock me out… not even banks are getting interest rates like that!  I’m surprised he’s not receiving daily takeover bids!

The reality is if you are not delivering genuine value which is valued by your customers, you’re going to find you are facing more and more resistance.  The era of greed is good is over.  People are saving and considering their purchases much more carefully than ever before.

By the end of the conversation the real estate agent was half-heartedly suggesting he could negotiate on the marketing costs.  Unfortunately, from a client perspective, the preceding conversation had already cost him the listing. He failed to see that selling is no longer about money – it is all about value.  I am unclear as to whether this agent just doesn't get it or his BS sales pitch works on enough people to get by.  What you need to understand is that if you come across customers who see through your BS sales pitch, you look stupid and you are damaging the reputation of your business.

Most of us are no longer interested in working with people who either don’t know what they are doing or think its fine to overcharge.  We, as customers, have choice.  More and more business owners are creating true value for their clients.  Those businesses are building a solid platform for growth.  And therein lie the lessons for us all.

The New Energies of Business are here.  It is just not good business to overcharge your customers.  It’s time to start thinking about where you are not providing value in your business?  Where you are not efficient and need to find more effective approaches?  Where you are not valuing your customers? And where is what you are offering not even relevant to the value they are looking for?  

What can you change? Where there is a lack of value there is always a way to take advantage of that in the market. Look at where customers are pushing back about price and develop value propositions that create new paradigms and standards in your industry.  When you take a leadership position in creating and providing value, your competition becomes irrelevant!  (And if you don’t know what your customers are saying about your pricing, it’s time to get amongst it and talk to them!)

If you are going to have a successful business as we move forward into the new energies, now is the time to put your new platforms in place. 

Would you like to join us at our regular New Energies of Business events?  On August 29 at Peregian Beach we'll be discussing how to create value, how the energy of contribution plays out in business and how loving your work creates profits... if you can't be there you can order the videos.  Our presenters and facilitators are experienced business people who are already living the new energies and know what it takes to transform business.  How does it get better than that? 

What are you seeing with your business and the value it offers?  What value have you experienced in other businesses lately?  Comment below!!

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7 Reasons Why Your Small Business Must Have A Content Management Strategy

Via Flickr: Intersection Consulting

Marketing guru Seth Godin has said ‘Content marketing is the only marketing left.’   New technologies mean traditional mass media is fast being overtaken by brands as publishers of content.  It’s easy to publish content online, but much more challenging to achieve tangible business results (like sales!)  Why?

As a business coach, I see a common marketing mistake that many small businesses make – they mistake participating in social media for actually having a content management strategy.  Here’s seven reasons why small business owners need to start with the strategy rather than the social media networks…
  1. Activity (or busyness) in social media domains does not equate to goal achievement. It’s expensive to create content (time and/or money) – if your content distribution strategy isn’t clear you’re shooting blindly and wasting valuable resources.
  2. Publishing is now marketing and marketing is now publishing. Your influence stems from your value.  Your value stems from your content and your relationships.
  3. Until you answer the why… e.g. What are the informational needs of my customers?  What pain points can my brand address?  What brand story are we telling?... your strategy will be incoherent and won’t deliver results.  Relevance is key.  Listening is core to success.
  4. Google already pushes Twitter updates through their organic search results and in February 2010 it was announced that Facebook Fan Page content is next – what keywords, key messages and topics will you be found for? The rules for being found by organic search are changing quickly!
  5. Without a clear and relevant content marketing strategy, you’ll attract followers who are irrelevant to your business – there’s no point having 50,000 followers if they aren’t in your target audience.  How do you feed your ‘ideal client’ into your traffic generation strategy?  With content your ideal client needs!
  6. Productivity – without a clear strategy, there will be no clarity about how all the pieces of your social media marketing connect together… which means it’s impossible to manage the distribution and flow of content in a meaningful way for your prospects and partners.
  7. The answer to every question you have about online marketing of your business will come back to ‘it depends… on your content marketing strategy.’  Without one, your ship is rudderless.
Want to explore how to develop an effective content management strategy for your business?  Attend the Revive Coaching Playshop in Brisbane on 8 October 2010 - Book today.

What is your best strategy for managing content?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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To Blog or Not to Blog… Blogging Made Easy (Part 2)

Via Flickr: Annie Mole

If you are publishing content on a blog, you need a strategy.  Without one you are shooting at moving targets and missing opportunities to hit the triple jackpot of being visible, valued and visionary! John Batelle, creator of Wired magazine recently stated that for brands to stay relevant and develop a true online experience for their customers, they must master the art of content creation.

Here are a few tips to take the mystery out of blogging... whether you are a technophobe, unable to string a sentance together or just completely confused... ;-)
successful blogging is possible!

  • Blogging technology:  If your website does not have its own inbuilt blogging system (many content management systems do) then it’s better to use with your own domain name rather than other free software.  You can use sites like Facebook or a Ning site as an alternative however you cannot use your own domain name and you lack control over your content – far from ideal!
  • Content marketing strategy:  It’s essential to have a clearly developed content marketing strategy… why, what, how… etc! Without a strategy you’ll waste a lot of time and resources.
  • Valuable content: You should only blog if you have plenty of valuable content that your target audience would be interested in.  Contrary to some of the advice out there, writing inane dribble about nothing won’t do you any favors in the search engines or elsewhere!
  • Writing alternatives:  It doesn’t matter if you can’t write – use audio / video / photos and put just a few words around each idea.  Or, record your ideas and have someone transcribe and edit them.
  • Developing connections: Get over the idea of ‘I don’t know what to write’ by talking to people about their challenges in the area your business serves.  Write about the solutions to those challenges in a way that invites people to respect you and share your ideas with others.
  • Meeting deadlines:  invite other related professionals to ‘guest blog’ on your blog on a monthly basis – gives you more great content and they’ll probably promote your blog to their followers.
  • Promoting your content: ensure you promote your blog posts in other social forums – ‘build it and they will come’ is generally only true in the movies!!!  Your blog offers the core content, social media are the outposts that create visibility.
Want to develop an effective content management strategy for your business?  Attend the Revive Coaching Playshop in Brisbane on 8 October 2010 - Book today!

What is your biggest challenge with blogging?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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To Blog or Not to Blog? The Business Owner’s Zillion Dollar Question! (Part 1)

At a recent business coaching gig for the KBN Ashgrove Network I talked about blogging.  So many business owners think they ‘should’ blog but in truth have no idea of where to start, why they are doing it or how to have their blog generate results.  

Some of the reasons you could choose to blog include:  
  • Your clients will ‘get you’:  the less formal nature of blogging makes you a ‘real’ person in their eyes – who do people ultimately buy from?  People they have relationships with! Authentic communication beats a static website any day.
  • You can create a forum for engagement with potential clients and others in your industry via ‘comments’.
  • It is the foundation of your social media strategy. You have 100% control over your content… no-one can remove it or change it except you.
  • Google rankings: regular blog posts create great link bait and encourage Google to search your site for fresh content more often.
There are many reasons to blog, but none of those matter if you can’t find a way to do it that works for you! In tomorrow’s post, we’ll explore some simple strategies that take the stress and confusion out of blogging.

Want to explore how to develop an effective content management strategy for your business?  Attend the Revive Coaching Playshop in Brisbane on 8 October 2010 - Book today.

What is your biggest challenge with blogging?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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10 Reasons Why Expert Status Is Essential For Small Businesses

Peter Drucker stated that business has only two basic functions – marketing and innovation.  Successful small businesses create value.  Smart and successful small business owners create expertise that cannot be copied!

When you are known as the ‘go to’ person in your industry, it opens many doors effortlessly.  Yes, you need to genuinely know a lot - this is about 'celebrity with integrity' rather than 'splash then crash'!  You also need to keep learning and keep packaging your expertise and knowledge in ways that make you stand out.

Sounds like a lot of work...but really, what is the alternative?  Being average leads to average (or worse!) business performance.

If you aren’t the ‘go to’ person currently, but you’d like to be, here’s 10 good reasons to put time and energy into building your expert status:

  1. You can market yourself with authority and establish your business as an industry leader.
  2. You can make your business highly visible with ease.
  3. Your referral business will grow as you are seen as a trusted resource.
  4. It’s easier to gain media coverage  and this builds trust with potential clients.
  5. Speaking at your industry conference is much more powerful than just attending!
  6. You can help clients more productively and insightfully than competitors.
  7. You can gain access to rare resources and other respected authorities in your field.
  8. By sharing, you can attract respect while having fun and being creative!
  9. You can convert followers into raving fans.
  10. You can charge more!
If you'd like a detailed strategy for developing your expert status, the REVIVE Playshop will help turn you into a high profile expert faster than you can imagine! 16th November 2009 Bookings Essential!

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FREE Workshop for Sunshine Coast Business Owners

Are you finding the current economy challenging?
Would you like to e-x-p-a-n-d your business?
Would increasing your profits be rewarding?

Discover new perspectives on generating your business success with ease and joy at the REVIVE Business Coaching Playshop.  In this f*ree one-hour Playshop, you will:

  • Become aware of common mistakes business owners are making in the current market and what to do instead!
  • Learn 3 creative and cost-effective ways to increase your profits.
  • Learn 3 simple strategies for attracting your ideal clients.
This interactive and fun Playshop is designed for small businesses at any stage of development.  Even if you are just thinking of starting a business, the informative style of the Playshop will help you see more possibilities for your business idea!

About the Presenter:
Lisa Murray is a business coach focusing on peak performance, business startups and helping stressed business owners regain control of their life and business. Her holistic techniques help small business owners and others facing major life issues solve their biggest challenges with ease.  Lisa has worked with hundreds of business owners in many different industries.  She has extensive marketing and management experience.

Having experienced severe burn-out, Lisa has also become an expert in work-life balance.  She helps small business owners create the life and business of their dreams through the use of fast, simple and effective techniques which encompass wellbeing, management, marketing and business strategies.

Want to Play?
Date:     Thursday 1 October, 2009
Time:     5.30pm – 6.30pm
Venue:   The Cooper Gallery, 2/235 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville
Cost:     Complimentary

RSVP:  Essential!  Please email Lisa Murray  to confirm the number of people attending, names and business name.  You are welcome to invite other business owners who may be interested!

What would it take for your business to be phenomenal?  (Come to the Revive Coaching Playshop to find out!!)

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What Easton Pearson Knows About Building A Brilliant Brand (That You Don’t!!)

Internationally renowned local fashion brand Easton Pearson are celebrating their 20 year anniversary with a stunning exhibition at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art.  The exhibition was amazing, but being the business coach that I am, what struck me most was the immense marketing value to the Easton Pearson brand.  

As well as the talks, tours and events for the exhibition, there were foyer and gallery displays, a children’s art activity centre (joyfully frequented by lots of ‘big’ kids who love playing dress-ups too!), extensive advertising of the exhibition by the Gallery, merchandising in the Gallery Shop and additional promotion everywhere you looked (even in the Gallery Café!).

Unless you pay big bucks, it is almost impossible to buy promotion, credibility and visibility like that!  Mediocre ‘me too’ brands never attract these types of showcase opportunities. The good news is that whilst you can't buy that type of exposure, you sure can build a brand that will attract it! 

So what needs to happen in your business for your brand to attract such opportunities?  Here’s my top 5 business coaching tips on building a phenomenal brand:

  1. Your vision must be bold.
  2. Your brand must be remarkable, original and desirable.
  3. Your brand influence must impact your industry in unexpected ways.
  4. Your brand must be sustainable and successful.
  5. You must know the value of your brand and protect it – whatever it takes!
What will you do differently to build your brand from now on?  Share your inspiration in the comments below…

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Simple Rules or Stupid Rules? Which type is running your business?

All businesses have rules – some are simple, smart and understood by everyone; others are stupid, senseless and resisted by everyone.  Simple rules make you efficient, they make you money and they make your team and customers happy.  Stupid rules ensure you and your brand will be talked about for all of the wrong reasons…

Let me give you an example.  On the weekend I went to the Queensland Art Gallery. My sweetheart was carrying a bottle of water.  At the entrance we were informed that the water could not be carried around – it would have to be put into a bag.  Not only that, they would supply a bag if we didn’t have one!

Further discussion with the staff member revealed that you could not drink water whilst in the gallery – for reasons which are still mostly unclear, but seemed to relate to the risk of spillage.  Less than 20 metres away, inside the gallery is a lovely water feature that is easy to splash in if you feel like it… This ‘water in a bag’ rule is illogical, inconsiderate of visitors and makes the gallery look insane.

I’ve been to some of the best art galleries in the world, and never has anyone suggested I could not have a drink of water or carry around a water bottle. Australia is one of the hottest countries in the world. Does QAG really think that people will visit for hours on end without sustenance? (And no, don’t suggest the Café – sadly it was overpriced and the service underwhelming…)

I don’t know what their marketing cost of acquisition per visitor is, but it seems to me that the benefits arising from having a staff member mop up a spill if the unlikely was to occur would far outweigh the costs. Does this rule create a thirst for art or thirsty visitors?

What crazy rules are ruining your business? What written or unwritten rules are enforced in your business that annoy your customers or staff and create virtually no value except a sense of satisfaction for the bureaucratic bore who invented them?  What would happen if you expected the best of your customers and staff instead of the worst?

Today’s task is to go find a few stupid rules and get rid of them – it is so easy to create happiness in business… why do so many make it so difficult?

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Is Your Service ‘Entry Level’ or Extraordinary?

Has it ever occurred to you that what you think is great service is actually only the ‘entry level’ activities which allow your clients to put you on the list of possible suppliers? If not, you may be in for a rude shock!

Recently I listened to a senior manager from a large transport company talk about the new improvements to their tracking technology and delivery service. The transport company thought they had delivered an exciting groundbreaking service.  

My business coaching client who uses this company was scratching his head wondering what was so special – these were things he’d been requesting for years!   All they’d done was fix the bugs in their systems and provide service basics that should have already been available!

Sadly this amazing new service was at best the ‘point of entry’ from my client’s perspective – so instead of being ecstatic about this news, my client took it as ‘done, thanks, what’s next…’.  

Imagine if this transport company had taken a little time to talk to their clients and include some ‘extras’ which would offer their clients genuine and extraordinary value based on their knowledge of the transport industry and their clients businesses.

What if they invited the top 10 fastest growing clients (yes there are plenty out there even in the GFC!) and took them away for a business building weekend…   Any business owner who has double digit growth in this market would jump at the chance to meet others with similar experiences… who knows what business opportunities could arise from such an event! Most importantly, the transport company would be positioned as the really smart operators who created further growth in their clients business…

Think about this for one second.  If these businesses grow even faster, the transport company grows too -  each of these businesses rely on transport for customer deliveries… it is a total win-win! Why wouldn’t you do it?

What extraordinary experiences and ideas can you offer your clients for mutual benefit?  Take 10 minutes to think of 5 'A List' clients and 5 phenomenal ways to add value to both of your businesses.  Then action at least one and measure your results!  My business coaching tip for this post? You may want to work ON your business more often!!!

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