The number one barrier to your business growth

I’m an ‘80s YUPI throwback – and it shows.

Like when I was asked what Michelle and I do, and gave the flippant reply, ‘We’re business barrier busters’.   My equally long-in-the-tooth friend said, ‘What – like Ghost Busters?’, and he began to laugh and sing the movie theme song, ‘Who ya gonna call? Ghost Busters!’

Anyhow, it stuck.   I liked it, more than the dry corporate speak, ‘We’re business strategy consultants who blablabla …’   We even named one of our programs Barrier Busters.   Because it exactly describes what we do.   We help mostly small business and charities identify the barriers which are holding them back.   Then we help them bust down those barriers.

Notice the word ‘help’?   That’s because we show them how to do it for themselves. Like ‘Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves’ by Eurythmics – another 80s icon (now I can’t get that tune out of my head) – is a song all about empowerment.   We’re a bit empowerment mad (better than being power mad, right?).   That’s how we get testimonials like this:

“Prior to working with Dragon Sisters, I went to a lot of expense and effort to strategize the marketing for my business development – with no real results. I had folders full of information, but not the detail of how to translate this for my own business.

Now, I am able to get the strategic positioning, content creation, marketing and business development support, for the specific outcomes and results I want and need for my business. Within 7 weeks I could see measurable, significant improvement. Finally, someone understands me and my business!   Michelle has been the angel on my shoulder.”  Dee Waterson, Ignite Yourself

Did you notice that Michelle has achieved angel status?!Image courtesy of Prawny at FreeDIgitalPhoto.com

Funnily enough no one ever calls me an angel …

The Rolling Stones ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ pops into my head (now that’s even older than me).

If you’re having the devil of a time working out the number 1 business barrier – not getting enough customers – here’s a FREE little ebook to help you out.   It’s called The number one barrier to your business growth.

I’m off to listen to Annie Lennox singing ‘There Must Be An Angel’, while I watch Michelle polish her halo …

Yvonne

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.

The changing workplace…working remotely

Each place you work leaves its mark and shapes you in some way. Over the course of my career, I’ve worked in many different environments ranging from luxurious, top-flight corporate offices in the City of London, through to run down one room dog boxes, complete with a leaky roof!

Nice offices are a bonus, but as a rule, you really don’t worry too much about the trappings of your surroundings as long as you enjoy the work. The exceptions being when it is stinking hot, freezing cold or the water is dripping from the leaky roof onto your desk!

You remember different things about each place. For instance, at Lombard Odier, I learnt the meaning of absolute confidentiality. Working at St John Ambulance I discovered how to overcome my own personal feelings and just get on with the job at hand because people needed me.

In between places, there have been other lessons learnt. You continue to learn each and every day of your life when you are open to what is happening around you. Some things are easier to learn than others.

Certainly, keeping up with all the latest technology presents challenges to folks like me, but it also presents amazing opportunities. BeforePCsThe workplace has changed enormously since the early day of my career. But the biggest change I’ve seen is in working remotely.

I remember when people had the odd day of working from home, but working remotely is a different kettle of fish. It’s definitely changed the workplace environment.

Working from remote and distant locations that are outside your traditional offices such as home, local coffee shop or even a hotel room is continuing to gain more and more traction thanks to the ever-expanding information technology capabilities. Don’t you just love wi-fi and smartphones? I do!

I love working remotely – so much so that it’s become the bulk of my business – and I really strive to master the technology that makes this possible for me.

There are heaps of benefits, but there’s also a downside. The pros and cons from my perspective are:

Benefits
1. There is increased independence. If you’re working from remote and distant locations—away from the traditional office—you won’t be distracted by others and there is less chance of becoming involved in the usual office politics.

Lack of distractions should mean an increase in your productivity, but it’s easy to get sidetracked.

2. Increased flexibility. If you are a working-from-home parent, or a caregiver to someone ill or an aged parent, you can organize and schedule your commitments around family obligations.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It does require discipline, but it can definitely be achieved.

3. As an employer, you can have a pool of workforce talents from diverse geographical locations as opposed to conventional working.

I love working with my remote team of VA’s! With the time zone differences it means pretty much round the clock productivity and fast turnaround times for clients.

4. There is a massive increase in savings on several fronts.

– Travel costs, travel time, vehicle running costs and parking fees.
– Clothing and dry cleaning bills as you have a more informal dress code.

ID-100125904
Image courtesy of Marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

BTW – adopt a routine of getting dressed rather than sitting at your desk in your PJ’s all day! Make a point of getting up, showered and dressed every day that you are ‘working’. You don’t want to get caught short if you have to dash out or someone drops by!

– If you have a Virtual Assistant (VA), you only pay for the hours they actually worked. No issues with leave, superannuation, workers compensation and so on.

Disadvantages

1. It’s not easy to develop a relationship with other team members. Not everyone thrives on working alone and some people actually need personal interaction with colleagues.

2. The technology may fail. A backup plan is essential! That means using regular, automated backup for all your work, and having a second device to access Skype, internet etc.

3. It can be challenging to provide oversight and give clear instructions to remote workers as there is no direct supervision. I use a handy little tool called “Snag It” when I need to send visual illustrations of what I need – it’s magic!

4. Family and friends need to be educated that you are ”at work” and cannot be disturbed just because you are at home.

My Conclusion
The bottom line is that it very much depends on the individual, the business and the personalities involved.

Some of us thrive on remote work whilst others really struggle.

On a personal level, I thoroughly enjoy working remotely with my global team and the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Strong self-discipline is an absolute must!

Of course, nothing can beat face to face contact. It’s important to make sure to schedule a regular get together with your team, and that you get out and about to network.

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.

A version of this article was originally published on Simple Team Meeting as Pros and Cons of Working Remotely

4 Reasons Why You Should Always RSVP – apart from being good manners!

Don’t you just love the feeling of slicing open an envelope and carefully sliding out a personalised invitation with your name on it? Even better if it’s vellum, gilt-edged or embossed with a crest!20160225_141748-1

Even after all these years, and countless invitations, I still love that moment as the sharp opener slices clean the envelope to reveal its contents.

Those little moments of using my letter opener are becoming rarer and rarer.

Have you noticed an increased propensity for invitations to arrive by email?

Even wedding invitations turn up via email!

You can call me old-fashioned. I know electronic is better for the planet and more cost-efficient, but in my book, you can’t beat paper.

The days of snail mail envelopes are almost gone. Perhaps, in the not too distant future, they will be entirely obsolete.

Anyway, I digress.

No matter how an invitation arrives, it nearly always has RSVP on it (répondez s’il vous plait) and date to reply by. Of course, electronic invitations can get trapped in your spam filter or the junk mailbox, so you’re often none the wiser till it’s too late!

Responding is just plain good manners.

Yep! I can remember my grandmother always used to insist on Basildon Bond stationery to write RSVP’s and thank you notes. But, aside from not wanting to appear rude, there are other less obvious reasons why you should always RSVP.

#1 – Someone has thought enough about you to place you on their guest list. They want you at their event.

Give them the courtesy of knowing you appreciate being thought of. That’s the RSVP.

#2 – When we look at the business scenario – invitations are a way of saying “Hey, we value you. We’d like your company”. You’re being invited, you’ll be giving or gaining something from your presence at the event. Hopefully, you’ll do both!

Your RSVP, whether you’re accepting or declining, means you respect the business relationship.

#3 – If you repeatedly fail to respond, you could well find yourself scrubbed off the database permanently. When that happens, if you’re in business, it means the networking opportunities become more limited.

#4 – When you RSVP promptly (by the due date at the latest), you’re showing that you respect deadlines and value the organisers time.

Your appropriately timed RSVP is affirming that you’re a responsible and reliable person to deal with.

When sending an RSVP, if you need to decline, there is no need to go into any detail about why you are declining. A simple ‘regretfully unable to attend’ is usually sufficient.

If you are in the public eye or a position of seniority, you may well find yourself flooded with invitations.

Just because you’re invited does not mean you have to accept. It’s perfectly okay to decide what you will and won’t attend. Just make sure you RSVP to every single invitation that arrives with RSVP on it!

The easiest way not to forget is to do it immediately, or at the very least make a diary date and flag so you don’t miss it. It’s all too easy to forget when you get busy with the hustle and bustle of everyday living.

Michelle

P.S. Emily Post has this to say on RSVP’s

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.

 

 

The 4 Top Reasons Referrals Are Essential To Your Business

Referrals are a great source of business and despite the deluge of social media advertising some traditional methods still very much have a place in today’s business world.

4 Reasons referrals are essential

  1. Customer acquisition costs are a bare minimum.

Your happy customers are doing the marketing for you. Of course, this only happens if you give good service and are attentive to your customers’ needs. This means going above and beyond what is expected.

Satisfied customers are more than likely to bring in more customers to your business.

  1. Customer retention rate is higher.

If people are happy with your services, they are most likely to keep doing business with you. It is important to maintain contact and listen to customer feedback.

  1. The market place is generally crowded. This makes getting your message to stand out from the crowd difficult.
  1. Conversion rates are higher. A prospect introduced to your business by someone they trust is far more likely to convert into a new client/customer.

Knowing when and how to spot a potential referral opportunity is a good way to kick-start your referral system into gear. When a happy, satisfied customer comes along and gives good feedback, grab the opportunity to ask the customer to spread the good about your business.

Conducting after-sale interactions lets your customers know they are valued and not everything ends immediately after the sale/job is done.

How Referrals Work

When was the last time you went to a restaurant because a friend kept on raving how great the food or the service was?

I bet it was pretty recently. In fact, just today, I went to brunch at a new place because a couple of friends recommended it.

Have you ever asked a family member/friend to recommend a reliable plumber/electrician to take care of your dripping taps or broken fans?

I do this on a regular basis because good tradies are hard to find! Similarly, doctors, dentists, web designers, accountants and a myriad of other professionals.

If you’re like me, then you probably like to give your business to, and place your trust in, someone that comes recommended by somebody you know and trust.

If you haven’t got a system in place, it’s not too late to start! When you keep your eyes open it’s surprising at how easy it really is.

I’d love you to share your feedback on how you handle referrals and what systems you are using.

Michelle

PS Enjoyed this article? Sign up for my newsletter every Wednesday – direct to your Inbox – to help you connect, convert and sell!




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.

Who wants Uber Marketing?

Answer: Who doesn’t?!

I got this from Powered by Oxford Dictionaries • © Oxford University Press as the definition of ‘uber’:

“… denoting an outstanding or supreme example of a particular kind of person or thing … ”

Maybe you are an outstanding expert in your field.
Maybe your business is a supreme example for your sector.
Maybe everything about your business is totally uber – except the un-uber state of your customer engagement.

Did you see the post we shared on Facebook this morning that digital disruption has already happened?
Old Digital Marketing(1)It’s something many B2B and B2C clients are trying to get a handle on.

We know, because they ask us to help with this more than any other single Business Barrier Busting need.

The biggest challenges are:
1. What do you put up – or put out there – as your marketing messages?

2. How do you engage the interest of prospects and customers?

3. What will set you apart from the multitude of product and service toting businesses?

The answer to this is Strategic Content Marketing. And it’s not rocket science.

We do it every day, usually in the form of ghost writing, for just about every sort of platform – articles, email shots, blogs, webinars, Snagit, LinkedIn, Facebook, newsletters, advertorials etc.

Is that an unashamed plug for one of the Dragon Sisters services? Well, I am a sales person at heart, so what do you think?

This isn’t a plug though. Rather, I am sharing what I really think is a great article by Brian Honigman which explains a lot in terms of ‘how to.’ So if you’re in the mood for a Sunday read, check it out.

Hope this helps you with your marketing.
Have a super uber Sunday!
Yvonne

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.

Success – A Different Perspective

WINNER1 cmpThis blog post was, in part, inspired by the speech Michelle gave almost 12 years ago as the 2004 Telstra NT Business Woman of the Year. It was first posted on Simple Team Meeting in April 2015.  We believe it is just as relevant now as it was then.  Wishing you every success in 2016.

Michelle & Yvonne

 

When you hear the word success what do you immediately think of?  Wealth, status or fame? I suppose the most common is the trappings of wealth but this is purely external.

Success, at least the monetary kind, and happiness do not go hand in hand. For numerous reasons. Sometimes individuals have a tendency to push themselves so hard to succeed that they do this at the risk of loosing everything else around them. This includes health, family and even themselves.

The more pressured your job is, the more important it becomes to take the time to ensure you are succeeding in all aspects of your life.

In my eyes you are a success when you are happy with where you are. In other words, being happy in the moment. That is not to say you should not have ambition, goals and dreams, rather it means accepting and enjoying the present as opposed to constantly looking ahead to the future, the next goal.

Now this may sound a bit strange to some, but based on personal experience, I believe this is absolutely the case. The epitome of success is allowing yourself to appreciate the present.

Accept and give yourself a pat on the back for what you are achieving at the moment.

Do not pay too much heed to what everyone else considers or thinks is appropriate.

Living in the moment means taking the time to enjoy what are often the very simple pleasures of life. I embrace moments when I walk to work. I admire the scenery and absorb the little details like the blossoms unfolding , the birds cheeping,  and the way the light changes in the sky at different times of day. I enjoy allowing my mind to wander where it chooses.  I take the time to appreciate the walk and see it as an exercise opportunity rather than a drudge. It is my choice to see these as a pleasure moment and it sets me up for the day with a positive mindset.

We are each responsible for our own success, for our own feelings.  It does take some time and effort to achieve the skills to be able to live in the moment, but it is definitely a skill worth developing.

Developing awareness of living in the moment is a skill which accompanies us through life. It gives us the power to embrace success in all its forms and allows us to experience the greatest success of all in life, personal happiness.

Michelle

PS – love to hear your thoughts on what represents success. Leave a comment here.

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.