LIVE – Learning Experiences

LIVE Learning Experiences – LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Webinars.

Each of these platforms encourages “going live”.

Being live offers amazing opportunities to reach a much larger audience.

BUT, you do need to be comfortable with:

1) Putting yourself out there

2) The tech side of things

Although I regularly use Zoom there is one small drawback. It’s the fact that your participants have to download Zoom.

This can be an issue.  As I am often working with individuals who are not technically minded – and although it’s simple once you know how – it can be a challenge.

Now, although I ‘ve done lots of online teaching, I have never done an online workshop – at least I hadn’t up until last night.

Because I didn’t want to have folks getting all flustered before they even arrive at my workshop, I decided I’d try out a new platform.

Choosing a platform

Here’s where it gets confusing.

There are soooooo many choices. AND there are so many differing opinions of which works best.

I’d pretty much decided on Webinar Jam (I already have EverWebinar) until I started to check out some of the recent feedback – glitchy and not so fantastic from tech support.

I ended up choosing to try Demio – they offered me a free trial – all good 🙂 – and that pushed me across the line. After all, if they are confident to offer that, they must believe in their product.

How did it go?

It looked super easy.

I enrolled, set up and sent out the link to my attendees. Created the meeting room and uploaded the workbook.

Nice going. I’d had a couple of queries, but tech support was right there within 5 mins to help.

Cool.

I’m good to go and have time to spare.

As always, there’s the temptation to make last moment tweaks -and this is where it all started to unravel.

I know, I should have known better!

BUT…

I made my tweaks – just a couple of tiny ones. Not really necessary but I wanted to do it.

This was in beta mode (my participants knew this) but I wanted it to be the best I could make it.

I’d said up-front there was the possibility of some glitches.

I was uploading my presentation slides an hour out from the workshop.

First little glitch – not possible to load them except as a PDF or as a YouTube. Maybe I had been told this – maybe not. I don’t recall.

Okay – not a problem…Plan B is to share my screen.

Let the games begin 🙂

Time to go Live. Participants got in really easily.

No sound. Easy fix. I just needed to click a box.

I’m feeling a tad flustered. I share what is happening in the conversation with attendees – I mean they can see me on screen – and goodness knows what they are thinking!

Share my screen to launch the presentation. They can’t see it properly. Sizing is not right.

Fiddle. Fiddle. I get it working BUT not as I wanted it to.

It’s not flowing and appearing as it did in my run through.

Maybe I should not have made the tweaks!

Actually, I definitely should not have made those tweaks.

Fortunately, I know my subject – Strategic Planning – really well. At least I am not panicking about what to say.

The results?

Participants engagement was high – I think my “comedy show” (think Faulty Towers!) at the beginning helped create a real “authenticity” factor.

I always tell my clients they need to be authentic as people relate to people.

Well, this was definitely authentic. No doubt about it.

The chatbox worked well. My wonderful assistant did a fantastic job of writing down the answers from the chatbox and running them into me.

Note to self – need to make sure I have another monitor beside me so I can see the questions.

The recording feature was excellent. I now have a recording I can share. But… I’m not going to send it out. I don’t think the comedy show will be as funny if it’s not live.

Feedback

The quality of the information presented and taught went over very well. Participants said the pace was good and I didn’t cram in too much.

They’ll be back for Part II next Wednesday. In the meantime, I’m going to be re-running Part I so I get a decent recording to send those who could not show up for the live.

How often do you experiment with new technology?

If you have a tale to share, I would love to hear it in the comments.

Fly like a dragonDragon head image

Michelle

 

Achieving Goals

Achieving goals comes down to knowing what you want.

But knowing what you want is not enough.

Once you have your set goal, it’s then time to get down to planning out the way you’re going to achieve it.

Regardless of whether it is in your personal or business life the reality is that strategy really does play a huge part on the journey to achievement.

Defining Strategic

Strategic (adjective) as identified by the Oxford dictionary is defined as – Relating to the identification of long-term or overall aims and interests and the means of achieving them.

If you want to achieve a certain outcome then you need to have a very measured approach.

A pathway. A series of stepping stones that take you forward towards your goals.

Without that pathway.

The map.

The strategy.

Life tends to just wander along in and before you know it a year has flown past!

Without strategic direction, there is less chance of achievement and satisfaction.

Strategic planning is all about aiming for what is right for YOU and for your business.

You are unique and your plans will be different from mine – but there is a commonality to all plans…

You can read here how I utilised strategic planning to achieve my personal goal of living and working in Europe for 12 months.

Strategic Direction

As you move along with your business/life/career you NEED to know the direction you are heading in and WHERE you want to end up.

Why? Because without clear goals it is impossible to tell if you have actually achieved your goals.

You will not know when you have arrived.

And knowing that is super important BECAUSE it is what helps you feel motivated.

The sense of achievement, as you tick off each goal, helps keep you fueled with positive forward momentum.

Naturally, goals can and often do change as you move through life. That’s part and parcel of business growth and life in general.

Fly like a dragon  Fly like a dragon

Michelle

 



12 years old today & lessons learnt

12 years old today means lots of lessons have been learnt along the way.

To clarify – it is the 12th birthday of the day that the business name Dragon Sisters was first registered. It’s been quite a journey with lots of ups and downs.

 

Projects big and small. Short and long term contracts. Very public and behind the scenes. Each of these experiences has been part and parcel of our business evolution.

Along the way, we’ve been fortunate to meet some fabulous people who have so willingly shared advice, guidance and provided mentorship.

Learning is a life-long process

When you run your own business you are constantly learning and from some of the most unexpected and unlikely sources – which is what makes it all the more fun.

There is never a dull moment. Adventure. Drama. Action. Anguish. Satisfaction. These are all part of the journey as a small business owner.

12 Lessons Learnt

  1. Never underestimate the value you bring to the table
  2. Whatever is really easy for you is not for others
  3. You need to be constantly testing, measuring and tweaking
  4. Done is better than perfect – relates to point 3
  5. Never become complacent
  6. Creating connections is essential for your growth
  7. Word of mouth is the most powerful tool you can harness
  8. Be very clear on who your audience is
  9. Small, easy to digest chunks of information work best
  10. Ask for help when you need it
  11. Don’t be afraid to pivot
  12. Discipline and consistency are the keys to achieving goals
Having a great coach or mentor is invaluable! We’ve been blessed to have a few of those come into our lives.

Fly like a dragonFly like a dragon!

Michelle

COMPARISON – THE THIEF OF JOY

“Comparison is the thief of joy” Theodore Roosevelt

And the new trial by Facebook in Australia to reduce comparisons by removing the visibility of LIKES on a post is music to my ears.

With social media being such a dominant part of our daily lives, it is all too easy to get suckered into the vanity metrics.

Thanks to this move by Facebook content that is being posted should be a lot better quality and more authentic rather than a contest to get the most LIKES.

What you should be comparing

From a business perspective, it is important to measure your own progress and run your own race.

When you focus on comparison to others on a regular basis, you’re on a sure-fire track to go right off course.

My dragon boat coach used to say “momentum goes where attention flows” and he is right!

If you’re so busy looking around at what everyone else is doing, it’s impossible to concentrate on running your own race.

Your efforts become sloppy because your focus is elsewhere – I’ve seen this happen a zillion times in a dragon boat. Especially with excited new teams who feel they have to “watch” the competition to beat them!

Where to Focus

It’s your own race/business. Unique.

Once you’ve got your race/business plan bedded down, the focus should be on how you/your business is progressing against your plan.

Compare where you are today to where you were 6 months ago, a year ago, 5 or even 10 years ago.

These are the statistics that are meaningful as they are very specific to your own journey/business development.

At the end of each dragon boat race, the coach would review what went well, where we could tweak and improve. That would then be written into the race plan.

It’s the exact same with your business – move towards those goals/milestones. As you reach each goal, stop. Check how you are tracking. Decide where you may want to tweak a strategy but first run your race.

Engagement not comparison

Engagement means paying attention. In the dragon boat, we paid attention to each team member, to what each was bringing to the team in terms of commitment and effort in order to win the race.

In the business realm, this translates into a focus on what you are offering your audience – whether it is on social media, a blog, via email or in person.

The quality of your content and your service delivery is what leads to success.

Fly like a dragonFly like a dragon!

Michelle

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PRODUCTIVITY vs ACTIVITY

Productivity is not a by-product of lots of activity. 

It’s really easy to look busy, to bustle about from one activity to the next, but it is important to recognise that being busy does not always equate with being productive.

This is exactly why is it so very important to be consciously aware of what you are investing your time in.

A great example of this is time spent on social media – it’s got to be one of the biggest time wasters around.

Yes, social media is crucial when you’re in business. If you are bootstrapping it is even more important to harness what is available at no cost.

Conscious Awareness

BUT…we each need to be consciously aware of avoiding the rabbit holes that social media temptingly offers as we scroll through newsfeeds.

Sponsored ads, powerful tempting images with great headlines are popping up in our feeds.

It’s clever.

The advertisers are tempting us to click away from whatever it is that we are doing.

It’s a real trap that is so easy to fall into – and I’ll confess it has got me several times!

The solution?

Focus on Productivity

When you’re looking at the productive habits of highly effective people, it all comes down to…

Staying focussed and being disciplined.

Productivity comes from knowing where you are going. And taking those measurable, achievable and progressive steps.

Steps that are moving you along the path to successfully achieving your goal.

No matter what that goal is – large or small – the formula you follow for productivity is exactly the same.

The teachings of the late and great Jim Rohn suggest asking yourself:

Who am I around?
What are they doing to me?
What have they got me reading?
What have they got me saying?
Where do they have me going?
What do they have me thinking?
And most importantly, what do they have me becoming?

When you stop to ask yourself those questions there is a shift in perspective.

Have you taken the time to ask yourself these questions? If not, take a moment now and run through them.

Love you to let me know in the comments how you ensure you’re at your productive best.

Fly Like A Dragon

Michelle

PS Curious to know more about me?  Check out my LinkedIn Profile AND let’s connect 

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So You Want To Sell Online?

To sell online is the dream of many. An online course is all the rage. After all, it’s a vast global marketplace and you can work from the comfort of your own home.

Making money while you sleep.  Sounds fabulous!

The Reality

All too often we start out all fired up only to discover that reality is not quite as simple as we initially envisaged.

The reality is this – it’s hard work. BUT there is a way to get a head start, and that’s by using the expertise that my friend Amy Porterfield has to share in the Digital Starter Kit that she’s created.

No such thing as an overnight success.

Yes, it is possible to be very successful online. It all comes down to strategy.

Regardless of whether you are an Etsy store, an author, a business coach…Before you do anything at all there 5 key areas that you need to pay close attention.

5 steps to successfully selling online

Step 1 – Identifying your target audience.  You need to be really specific because you cannot be all things to all people.

If you are too generic, you miss the mark because people do not realise you are talking to them. When you are niching down you have a much better chance of succeeding.

Step 2 – Start building your email list. This is absolutely essential. It means being able to speak directly to your target audience.

If they join your email list, you know they are interested in what you have to offer.

Step 3 – Get really clear & familiar with what you will need to deliver.

So many people start to plan an online course or product, but then, partway down the path, realise they have no idea on what is needed to deliver the finished product.

In other words HOW all the moving parts need to fit together. If the building blocks don’t fit then there is no way that sales happen. It’s definitely not a case of build it and they will come.

Step 4 – Know the costs involved in getting started.

This can be a very nasty shock and lack of funds can end up stalling your progress.  Not many people tell you exactly what this looks like and I’ve made a few expensive mistakes along the way.

Step 5 – Create your initial campaign designed to educate rather than to sell. Your audience needs to get to know you. After all, would you buy from a perfect stranger online?

Once you have these five steps in place you are ready to start thinking about marketing your product.

The five steps outlined above are way more important than having a fancy logo or branded collateral. They are the icing on the cake that only comes AFTER you have baked the cake. In other words – the solid base needs to be in place before you can start the decorating.

As business strategists, we all too often see people make the mistake of investing far too much in the ”trimmings.”  This can be a costly mistake.

Selling or teaching online is great, but it’s a journey that you need to be approaching strategically if you want to be successful.

It’s not easy, but it’s most definitely worth the effort and with Amy Porterfield’s help my journey has been so much easier.

Got an opinion or question? I’d love you to share it in the comments.

Fly Like A Dragon

Michelle

 

Here’s why you need a strategic plan – or an action plan!

Here’s why you need a strategic plan – or an action plan.

Whilst the words might make your eyes glaze over and conjure up images of boring boardrooms stick with me here….promise, you’ll gain an insight that will be super valuable.

A good strategic plan is not a large and boring document. It’s user-friendly and simple to read.

It lays out your pathway. A pathway that should be measurable, achievable and progressive.

It’s a tool that you should be regularly referring to because it shows you WHERE you are going.

Unless you have your directions clearly written down it is pretty much impossible to tell if things are on track and when you have arrived at a goal.

This is extremely valuable when you are tempted to go after a shiny object. You know something new comes onto the market, you hear a great pitch and decide immediately it might be perfect?

This is the time to look at your plan and check if it aligns with your goals.

If it does great!

If not, then move on and keep your eyes firmly on the goals you have set.

Being strategic means being specific

It is important to be very specific about your goals. As an example, writing down “gain new business” is not clear. It is not strategic in the least. It’s a general statement.

Why do you want new business? Is it because you want more $$ in the coffers?

If it is just $$ ask yourself this question – could you gain these from existing clients/customers? Be clear on the $$ amount that would equate achieving that goal.

For instance, having 10 new customers at say $5000 each is not the same as having a goal of $50,000.

Which is it the 10 customers or the $50K?

The 50K could potentially be reached with just 5 solid contracts.

Here’s another example from my own life. To be able to live in Europe for a year.

Without being retired or having the capacity to afford a year without income, this was not an easy task to achieve. But I did!

How? By using my own personal strategic plan that involved an end goal and many mini-milestones to get there.

Want to learn how to formulate your own strategic plan?

Reach out to me as I’d love to help you just as I’ve helped so many others. Promise! Don’t take my word for it…check out what others have to say.

Fly like a dragon!

Michelle

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.

 

Think Global, Act Locally

Think global, act locally.

It’s not a new catch-cry, but it is definitely one that is gaining momentum as the squeeze on businesses gets tighter. The need to encourage buying local is very real when everything is but a mouse click away.

Defining locally

My “local” consists of two distinct areas – the local area where I am physically located – currently Bribie Island in Queensland, Australia.

Then there is my “local” online community.

My “local” online community consists of my clients and other businesses I use regularly.

They are  “local” to me because we have a relationship built over time.  So even though we are not physically in the same location, they are my go-to people for certain services.

We support the community and environment for a number of reasons. Some of the main ones being that the community grows stronger.  Local businesses support local initiatives in a wide variety of ways including offering pro-bono services, donating to fundraisers, sponsoring events and much more.

The flip side of this is that as a business owner we need to remember that alternatives are just a mouse-click away, delivery is often overnight and prices are often cheaper.

Service makes a difference

There are those who will always go for a cheaper price, and there is not a lot you can do about that.

BUT, there are many who are happy to pay a little more for excellent service and to keep their funds local.

Price Points

It all comes down to educating our community and taking that educative approach to our business.

I’ll give you an example. I recently needed to make an expensive purchase for my office and a local business had mentioned to me last year that when I was in the market to please come to them first as they would, likely as not, be able to price match.

I contacted them earlier this year, only to receive the very terse answer that I’d better go buy from the multi-national.

No explanation. Nothing.

Lost Opportunity

Here’s the thing…if the answer I received had spelt out that sadly on this occasion they could not price match, or something along the lines of that by buying local they were readily available to help troubleshoot etc, I would have very willingly paid the extra $100.

Instead, I received a short, unenthusiastic answer that did not inspire me to part with my extra $100.

The damage done is actually worse than the loss of this one sale from me; not only does it not inspire me to ever go back again, it has also meant I have shared my negative experience with my business network here in the local area.

By contrast, I never question the prices that the local electrical store quotes. I know they are sometimes a bit more expensive, but their service is stellar so it’s a no brainer to go there for all my electrical needs.

Recommendations & Referrals

Similarly, when it comes to the butcher, pharmacy, bottle shop, restaurants and more, I enthusiastically recommend the businesses I love.

I actively encourage everyone to act locally and support local businesses in the community that I know provide a wonderful service.

If there isn’t a business that is physically close, then I refer to my online “local” community.

Act Locally

When it comes down to acting locally, there are 3 key points that business owners need to keep in mind in order to maintain and build a client base.

1) No one can afford to be complacent.

Just because a business is a local one does not mean that people will automatically patronise it.

Customers are savvy. It must be meeting all their needs.

The businesses that thrive and grow are always those which are prepared to go the extra mile.

2) Genuine service and courtesy go a very long way.

Taking a genuine interest, active listening and being courteous and honest play a large role in converting a prospect into a sale.

3) Maintain a database and utilise it to stay in touch 

When you’re local it’s all about building a relationship. A buyer has many choices.

By maintaining regular communication (and there are lots of different ways to do this) you stay front of mind.

Avoiding complacency, being on the lookout for opportunities to value add.

Offering good old fashioned service with a smile (even if it’s on the phone, smiling is important!) is what keeps customers coming back, more importantly, it’s what gets referrals for your business.

At the end of the day, referrals are frequently the deciding factor for customers on whether they will shop locally.

Fly like a dragonFly like a Dragon

Michelle

PS – Love you to share your views in the comments on what are the deciding factors for you to act locally or go further afield.

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Are you missing opportunities for your business?

Are you missing business opportunities?

Do you find yourself saying things like ‘If I knew then what I know now … I wouldn’t have done that/I would have done this’?

The biggest frustration is when there was a great opportunity – there for the taking but you missed it.

These kinds of scenarios usually only become apparent when someone, other than you, beats you to the punch.

In the words of Homer Simpson, this can be a ‘Doh!’ moment.

It’s not luck

Yet there are people in life, and in business, who never seem to slip up in this way. They always seem to be surrounded by opportunities.

Have thoughts like these ever bounced across your brain? ‘I should be so lucky!’ or ‘That guy has all the luck!’ or ‘How does she do it?!’

But STOP! Pause for a moment and ask yourself this question…

Is it luck, or do they know something you don’t?

What’s noticeable about these types of people is that they’re consistent. They rarely bobble up and down like a ping pong ball in a wave machine.

There’s something that anchors them, keeps them on course, on point.

They have a specific mindset

In business, you need a consistent approach to everything.  

If you don’t, you’ll find that the results you get peak and trough (like the ping pong ball), and your performance averages out at, well – average.

By your approach to everything, we mean just that:

Everything you do and say.

Every decision you make.

Everything you think.

It’s what we call a Smarketing Mindset.

And before you think, ‘this Dragon Sisters lot sound like a brain-washing cult,’ one of the key things in developing a Smarketing Mindset, is honing your own, unique voice, to cut through the white noise of sameness.

The Smarketing Mindset

Put simply it is a mindset that you develop to constantly and consistently create and maximise opportunities – even the ones you may not have noticed (remember those are the ones you lost to that person with a charmed life?)

Some people are born Smarketers (OK there was an element of luck with them there).

Most people become Smarketers by learning a system which gives them the same advantages.

Smarketing is about strategy – not the sort you write down for your boss or your bank manager – the sort you live by until it becomes second nature.

Your personal formula

Smarketing is your personal formula for communication and promotion. It sets you, and your business, apart from the rest.

It’s something that you do consistently.

A smarketing mindset means using a combination of very deliberate strategic sales and marketing techniques to make your own luck.

It means working consistently and building a solid base on from which to connect and network.

If you want to make your own luck – it’s time to get smarketing!

Michelle & Yvonne

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.

Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.

 

Getting Results from your social media

Getting results from your social media is crucial when you’re in business and if you are bootstrapping, it is even more important to harness what is available at no cost.

In addition to the 5 key steps outlined in my article on understanding the basics, it is really important to understand just how busy social media is.

When you realise that Facebook now has more active users than China’s entire population you start to get an idea of how vast it is. More precisely how much traffic is out there!

It’s hard to be heard and seen. BUT… it is still a massive tool for FREE exposure if you are using the right strategies.

Getting Results

Three simple steps to implement to help you get results from your social media

1) Be authentic

Do not imitate.

By all means like and share, but…

Do not try to copy the style and tone of someone else.

Allowing your own brand personality to shine through is what helps build relationships.

Here’s the thing…

Buying a high ticket course or paying a “guru” lots of money does not mean you are going to achieve amazing results…

At least, not overnight.

More than likely you’ll need to do a whole load of hard work behind the scenes.

Remember, the results touted in case studies and testimonials to get you to buy are not typical. If you look carefully, you’ll see there are disclaimers saying exactly that.

2) Have a Plan

Getting results from anything comes down to having a strategy.

This means spending time thinking about the direction that you are taking and whether it is aligning with where you want to take your business.

Write down what it is you are aiming to achieve and then work out the strategy to get you there.

3) Build your mailing list

This is crucial because if Facebook shuts you down you will have lost that audience.

It is not as frightening or as complex as it sounds.

You can bootstrap by using MailChimp which is free up to 2000 subscribers.

Next Step

Try out the three simple tips above and you’ll soon be seeing a difference. Make sure you track what’s happening so you can really measure your results.

Leave me a comment and let me know if you have a plan, or if you need help formulating one.

Fly like a dragon!Fly like a dragon

Michelle