Let’s Talk Turkey

Let’s talk turkey is highly topical given we are in the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching. But I am not talking about succulent, yummy stuff and roasted turkey…

No, sorry. Definitely not the one you probably plan to eat over the Festive season – although I do have a GREAT recipe for stuffing that’s been a guarded secret, handed down through the years. I finally got my hands on it last year!

I mean talking turkey about your business. Being serious. About what can be achieved. What has to be done and what can be left aside.

Getting down to business

Yes, it’s about stuff in your business. Or more precisely what you should and should not be stuffing into your calendar.

Social media, and likely as not your inbox is going mad right now with loads of special offers – Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Bargains Galore.

Everyone is wanting to sell you something.

Tips to still the noise

1) Choose wisely who you want to hear from. Unsubscribe from what you are not seriously in need of or who you do not genuinely enjoy hearing from.

2) If internet distractions are a big problem when you sit down to work there’s a great app called Cold Turkey! In the interest of full disclosure, this is Sasha’s affiliate link.

It’s a blocking app you can install on your PC. There is a free and a pro version which allows you to turn on a timer which will block off access to all webpages that are frequent distractions.  It is very powerful and works wonders for time management!

FOMO – Fear of Missing Out

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype. FOMO is real!

But, to be successful in your goals…, it is VITAL to still the noise.

To be able to work out what is valuable for you and your situation right now.

“Experts” with bright shiny websites are there to tempt you with offers to make you a millionaire.

Truth told – much is smoke and mirrors. It’s clever marketing.

I do have a free tip sheet on choosing someone to work with – it’s right here for you to grab if you want it.

SOS – Shiny Object Syndrome is alive and well, which is exactly why using FOMO  tactics works so well.

But here’s the thing…when you get to a certain point in your life you realise it all comes down to…going cold turkey.

Planning ahead

2020 heralds the end of the teens. A new decade lies ahead.

A time to be grown up and take your business by the horns rather than ‘stuffing’ around.

Without a plan written down, that is measurable, achievable and progress, you’ll find yourself floundering around. Been there and done that myself!

No, I am not a rag to riches story – I have lovely parents, had food on the table every night and was well educated with nice clothes on my back.

Failures

That said, I’ve also had my share of failures, of making bad decisions because I did not know any better.

It’s my lived experiences of failures that have brought me success.

Mistakes I made include growing too fast, spending money on tools I was not ready for (and did not really know how to use!) BUT I learnt many lessons!

Successes

My biggest successes have been on the roughest terrain with lots of bumps in the road but thanks to having a MAP I’ve been able to navigate those bumps that have included tight budgets, people letting me down, unexpected twists and turns that meant a quick pivot.

Those lessons are what I now use to guide my clients to success.

Write it down

Here’s a quick tip – when you write something down it becomes all the more real. It becomes a commitment to yourself.

Make it real! Let me know in the comments what the first action is that you’re going to take towards a successful 2020.

To your success!
Michelle

PS My Mastermind Membership that starts on 1 December 2019. If you’d like to be considered for a scholarship entry (Value $297 for 6 months) drop me a note to michelle@dragonsisters.com.au and tell me why you’d value a place 🙂

 

 

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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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

 

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.

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





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

 

 

 



Procrastination the enemy of productivity – are you guilty?

Procrastination. Everyone is guilty of procrastinating once in a while.

You put off doing that one important task in favour of washing the dishes, doing the laundry, or playing a game. We all have some form of procrastination activity, but it’s the enemy of productivity and in business, there’s no time for it.

Encouraging Productivity

I’m a terrible procrastinator, and I hate it. So over time, I’ve tried to find ways to be productive and also to FEEL more productive.

There’s a plethora of books and articles that will tell you how to be more productive but a lot of the time those tips don’t work for me.

And even when I’m being productive I often don’t feel like I am.

Now I’m not saying what works for me will work for you but here’s what I’ve found helps:

Check Lists

When I have a checklist to mark off I’m able to tell if I’ve been productive and that in turn encourages me to be more productive.

It also works as a bit of a pseudo-reward, I love that feeling of accomplishment when I mark off a task.

There’s an App for that

And of course, in this technological age, there’s an array of apps for monitoring productivity and encouraging productivity.

Personal I’ve got two apps on my phone and a separate program on my laptop for this and I find them so helpful in avoiding procrastination.

My favourite is Habitica which a friend recommended as a way of tracking productivity.

It’s super helpful in that it’s designed to be a little like an RPG (Role Playing Game).  You get experience points and coins for completing tasks so you go up in levels and can purchase new equipment for your avatar.

For me, this format is really encouraging.  It feels familiar and even though the rewards are simply virtual I find them a great incentive for upping my productivity.

The other apps I use to keep myself productive are Anti-Social and Cold Turkey.

Forced time offline

Social Media and the Internet, in general, are some of the biggest tools for procrastination.

We’ve all had that moment where we go to check something on Facebook and then, one hour later, we haven’t gotten anything done. That’s why it’s so important to be able to take time off.

To unplug.

Although often times your work may require you to remain a little plugged in – emails need checking, research needs to be done etc.

For that reason, I’ve made blocking apps a part of my work habit. When I really need to buckle down and focus I turn on the apps and block off all access to social media.

Removing the temptation is a great way to push forward. If I slip up (and I do sometimes) I just get a pop-up that says the site is blocked – a great deterrent!

I’d love to hear about your productivity secrets, so leave me a comment.

Sasha Hanton

 

MAXIMISING YOUR LUNCHTIME

Maximising your lunchtime makes great business sense. And, I don’t mean having a sandwich at your desk as you pour over reports or jumping on LinkedIn, Facebook etc.

Making time to have lunch, to step away from your desk/place of business is essential to maintaining a helicopter perspective.

When you’re leading a busy life, especially if you’re running your own business, it can be really tough to squeeze the extra time out of your day.

BUT…here’s the thing…you need to eat!

So maximising that time for your own benefit makes good sense – right?

Put down your phone – at least stick it in your pocket or handbag – stand up and walk out of the office.

Walking down the street, stopping to say hello to people and having a quick chat. Sitting quietly in a park/at the beach and absorbing nature, or having lunch with people outside of your normal circle all serve to help either ground or stimulate you.

What you choose to do each lunchtime depends on the outcomes you’d like to achieve.

The key is to make a conscious choice to utilise your lunchtime wisely. After all, it is time. Time is a finite commodity and once passed cannot be recovered.

Alone Time

Choosing to spend time alone, to sit in the park/at the beach will give you silence.

In that stillness, you have the chance to reflect quietly. You’ll often get to hear your inner voice that has been drowned out by the chattering monkeys.

Many of our clients who work in front-facing roles that demand they are “on” for most of their business day love these kinds of lunch breaks.

Actively Being Out & About

If you’re working in isolation, then getting out and about helps to switch off that intense focus your work demands.

Walking down the street and stopping to chat with a couple of people can often provide that human connection that is so important to people who work alone all day.

Alternately, if your work causes lots of pent-up frustrations, bursts of physical activity like a brisk walk, jogging or working out at a gym full of people can be a great tension reliever.

Group Lunches

Getting together with a group of like-minded individuals, from different industries is another productive way to spend a lunchtime. You gain a different perspective which is so very valuable.

I’m not talking about a boozy lunch at a fancy restaurant. You know, where everyone talks about how great they are and no one remembers anything much afterwards. I’ve been to a few of these over the years. Enjoyable but really very unproductive.

Rather, I mean a quiet place where you actually get to connect with authenticity and help each other out through the sharing of information in a supportive environment.

Lunch & Learn Sessions

Lunch and learn sessions are common in large corporations. Often used as a means to minimise downtime, and maximise employee engagement.

Now, if you’re a small business or solo operator you won’t have this luxury BUT… a group lunch and learn for others in the same boat is not too hard to organise.

We know because we’ve facilitated quite a few over the years.  Topics are always varied so attendees choose which they are interested in.

The objective is always that participants leave having learnt something of value – not just had a great lunch.

Scheduling

The key to successfully maximising your lunchtime and being able to get away all comes down to scheduling.

Consider it an important appointment with a very important person. Yes, that’s you!

If you are struggling to get started with this habit, begin with a day a week, and gradually increase it over a period of a month.

Once you start consciously working on maximising your time, you’ll be surprised at how easy it becomes. More importantly, the benefits that you gain are invaluable.

Speaking from a personal perspective – my lunchtime habits are one of the ways that I have been able to keep sane during challenging times. As an added bonus they’ve also brought Dragon Sisters new business connections.

Fly like a dragonFly like a dragon!

Michelle

PS – let me know in the comments how you spend your lunchtimes – I’m always curious 🙂