Strategic Planning = Achieving Your Goals

Strategic Planning is most often associated with a business.

Yet, if you stop and think about it… when you need to reach personal goals, it becomes so much easier with planning.

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.

Putting time and thought into how we go about achieving both business and personal goals is equally important. Yet this is not something very many of us tend to do. At least not consciously.

For the most part, we often don’t think of our personal lives in terms of strategic planning. Yet strategy really does play a huge part in each of our lives.

Achieving Outcomes

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 a leisurely (or perhaps chaotic) fashion.

There is no firm direction.

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 to mine – but there is a commonality to all plans…

Strategic Direction

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

Why? Because without clear goals it is impossible to tell if we have actually achieved our goals and arrived where we want to be.

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

So many times I speak to women who have achieved an enormous amount in their lives and yet still feel a sense of lacking.

A sense of lacking

The sense of lacking can often be as a result of lack of clarity. The clarity is missing because there is no clearly defined goal.

Goals are not set and so there is the constant sense of needing to strive for more because it’s never clear that the destination has been reached.

Think about it… we experience the truest sense of achievement when we know we have actually got something we were aiming for.

In my own life, I have received lots of accolades, but these did not really provide that sense of achievement. Other people may have defined these as achievements, and yes, in a way they are right.

BUT …because these were never my goals I did not gain the sense of having “arrived” anywhere. It was a bonus to be recognised for a job well done. It was never a goal to achieve personal recognition.

Personal achievement

For me – one of my most recent biggest senses of achievement came when I was able to spend a year living and working in Europe.

It had been a goal I had for many years.

Planning out how this could be possible without enough language skills to operate at a corporate or community business level and still earn enough money to live on was a challenge. A big challenge!

I made it a reality by putting together a 4-year strategic plan that would get me there. The plan involved ticking off each of the steps one at a time.

Small goals. Bit by bit.

The result was achieving my “sabbatical” year in Spain.

Fly like a Dragon Fly like a dragon

Michelle

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SOCIAL MEDIA – IS IT CONFUSING YOU?

If you’re confused by social media and how it applies to your business you are not alone.

Yes, it’s been around for over 10 years but that does not mean it’s gotten any easier to understand. In fact, it’s got more complex and confusing.

There are so many different channels to choose from – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter,  Instagram to name just a few.

If you did not grow up in the digital world with a smartphone attached to your fingertips, it can get a tad hard to understand at times.

It can also be a massive time-waster as you dash down the rabbit hole trying to figure it all out and listen to every expert that there is all telling you different things.

I’m not a digital native but I’ve been using social media for just over 10 years now. I’ve learnt a few things along the way.

My 5 Social Media Top Tips

1) Consistency is key – turning up consistently is essential.

You can’t just pop in and out as the fancy takes you or when you decide you want to “sell” something.

You need to consistently work on your social media.

2) Set goals and stick to them – decide what your goals are for social media and make sure that your expectations are realistic.

Is it to create engagement? To make sales? To get referrals? Each of these requires a different approach.

Once you know what your goals are it is much easier to pursue them.

3) You don’t need to be everywhere – being “everywhere” is not necessarily the right thing for your business.

Be strategic. Identify where your target audience hangs out.

4) Focus on 2-3 key platforms – once you know where your audience is you are better able to focus on interacting and gaining their attention.

5) Make sure you are offering quality content – this keeps your readers and fans engaged.

My Channels

I tend to stick to Facebook for my business and personal connections and I also use LinkedIn. The bulk of my posting is done on Facebook.

I do have accounts on Twitter and Instagram but I am not altogether comfortable with them. More importantly, that is not where my audience hangs out so I have not invested time in learning how to effectively “work” them.

LinkedIn keeps me in touch with my professional networks, and Facebook helps maintain a presence that is on a more ‘friendly’ level.

Monitoring

The landscape is ever changing when it comes down to social media. This means it’s really important that you continue to be monitoring what you are doing and where you are getting the best results.

It’s not a case of set and forget it.

Algorithms are rapidly changing and I make sure I keep abreast on my channels and I usually share my discoveries with my email list subscribers. Sometimes they are already aware of the changes but other times it’s a new discovery – it’s all about paying it forward and helping each other out.

Every Wednesday – direct to your Inbox – FREE Smarketing tips to help you connect, convert and sell!




 

What channels are you using? Let me know in the comments below.

Fly like a dragon!Fly like a dragon

Michelle

 

 




Why “Me Time” & Self-Care need to be a priority in your life

Practising self-care and taking time out for yourself is something everyone should be doing.

The importance of “Me Time” should never be underestimated. Yet so many women in business fail to take care of themselves first and foremost.

It makes no sense and yet it is such a common practice.

Why is this?

We operate in a busy and demanding world. I understand the outside interferences that can make it tough to carve out time for yourself.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the hectic day to day. And then what happens is that we often put ourselves last on the list of important things to take care of.

I’ve been there myself and it’s definitely not a good way to operate.

Making yourself a priority is not a luxury. It’s an essential.

So why do we do this?

Feelings of Guilt & Fear

At a subconscious level, you may be experiencing a feeling of guilt. And of fear.

For instance, it’s common for working mothers to be feeling that time at home needs to be spent with their kids, or doing something for the family – things like cooking, baking a batch of cookies etc…you get the picture.

And, dare I say it, a sense of inability to leave “the team” to cope?  I mean your family, your staff and colleagues.

Does this sound familiar? If it does, you are not alone!

But, guess what? They’ll manage. You are not indispensable – no one is.

Yes, we are each unique and valuable, but that is not the same as being indispensable.

The world will go on without you

Yes, it really will.

I learnt this first-hand many years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Before my diagnosis, I would feel guilty of leaving the family. I felt I needed to be there for them all the time.

Time to pursue my own activities would be once they grew up; my daughter was 3 and my son 12 at that time.

I was a mother, a businesswoman and a homemaker. My life was busy and I was needed everywhere – I was the glue holding everything together.

Being diagnosed was a slap in the face and a case of a very rude awakening. The reality that I might not actually live to see my children grow up made me realise…

I was doing them no favours by making myself indispensable to the family.

Plus, I was also cheating myself out of my life. All those things on hold might NEVER happen. A very frightening thought!

Suffice it to say I went through an emotional roller coaster over the course of my treatment. It was no picnic.

But… as I emerged out the other end of the treatment tunnel – a dark and lonely place – I knew that I needed to make time for me. For lots of different reasons.

The world will not end if you step away for a few days.

In fact, being constantly “on” does no one any favours. Not you, not your Board, not your team, not your clients and definitely not your family.

Sure you might be there in body.

But being present means a lot more than just your physical presence.

You need to be there in mind too – to be able to enjoy and concentrate on the moments you are in.

Being on auto-pilot is cheating both yourself and those who you are with.

Me Time

Taking time for your own self-care is absolutely essential. It’s not always easy, but you know what?

Where there’s a will…there’s a way.

Nurturing yourself makes sense on so many different levels.

After all, if you’re not in tip-top condition – how will you service your clients or look after your family?

Making yourself a priority is fundamental to being happy in your life.

Happiness comes from within

No matter what surrounds you externally, it is how you feel within that makes you happy. It is not about money, other people or possessions.

People, places and things do not make you happy.

Yes, they might be giving you a short boost but it does not last…because it is driven by external factors. If you do not value yourself enough to create “Me Time” and practice self-care, you may appear outwardly happy, but internally it is a different story.

Part of being happy, at least in my experience, is making a date with yourself for “Me Time”.

It comes down to making a conscious effort to devote a part of each and every day to self-care. Time dedicated to you.

Using Your Me Time

How you choose to use that time is very much a personal decision.

It’s got to be a space or activity where you get to still the chattering monkeys in your mind and replenish your energy.

Speaking personally, I have a very busy schedule that includes travel, family to care for and a business to run.

This means I need to use a range of techniques that are quick and easy to practice depending on where I am. It’s not a lot of time, but it is some time each day and that is the key.

My Personal Practices

I usually practice 10 minutes of meditation when I first get up, go walking or paddling. Depending on where I am and what my schedule is like that particular day will determine my daily practice.

I never listen to music, podcasts etc as I walk. I like to be in the moment and absorb what is around me and allow my mind to just be. Nothing to think about.

I journal and write regularly as a way of clearing the brain, and I also take time out to sit outside for lunch whenever I can.

Working across time zones makes routines a challenge so I need to maximise my business days. My small daily self-care activities keep me in a positive mindset and allow me to rest and empty my brain sufficiently to have the space to give more of myself to those I am working with and looking after.

Need help getting started?

So often I hear “It’s alright for you Michelle, but I can’t do that”.

My answer is “YES, you can – if you really want to. ” 

It all begins with EMPOWERING YOURSELF! If you need help understanding HOW to do this – reach out to me for some additional tips.

Are taking care of yourself first and foremost? Let me know in the comments.

Fly like a dragon!

Michelle

Changing things up…for business growth

Business growth means changing things up.

But change is not a natural state. It’s something that often brings resistance.

Our natural state is to want to stay within our comfort zones. It’s what we know, it’s usually predictable. We’re not taking any risks and it’s…

Boring!

Comfortable

There is comfort in waking up each day knowing exactly what you are going to do.

It’s nice knowing what’s going to unfold. How the day will play out. No hidden surprises.

You know what you’re going to be facing when you step into your office/business. You can handle whatever the day is going to be throwing your way. Sure there may be a few little waves of disruption, but that’s okay…you can handle it.

This kind of comfort comes from the familiarity of a set routine.

It’s mundane and certainly not a challenge. It is not an atmosphere for growth!

Challenge

Facing challenges makes you grow, develop new skills and expand your horizons.

I know from personal experience that it is during the times when I’ve been facing the biggest challenges that I’ve really grown.

One of the biggest challenges I ever faced and that had a huge impact on my future business pathway was…speaking in public.

I was always the one in the background. I was happy doing research, speaking to people one on one, writing speeches etc.

I had the wordsmith gift but I was missing an essential ingredient… the confidence to stand up in front of a live crowd. TV and radio were okay because the audience was not actually right there. Not sitting right where I could see them.

For many years I was able to coast along and avoid public speaking.

However, this all changed in 2004. I won the Telstra Business Woman of the Year (NT) Award. Part of the expectation was that I would be willing to speak in public.

It frightened the daylights out of me…

Embracing the Challenge

I listened to experts on how best to tackle the problem of overcoming nerves and what a good speaker needed to do. Tell a joke, warm the crowd up etc and so on went the advice.

I am not a natural at telling a joke. I’m hopeless and forget the punch lines every time, so no way was that going to work for me. I also tried (in the privacy of my home) practising a bunch of other techniques.

The very best advice I got was from a very unlikely quarter.

It came from Veronica Macauley Cross. She was the Queensland representative for BCNA at the same time as myself. Her advice was simply this…be yourself, and don’t ever let anyone try to tell you that catch in your voice needs to go. It’s the emotion that you convey that makes you such a powerful speaker.

It was also empowering to know that people genuinely wanted to hear what I had to share. Veronica passed away in 2007 (she was living with advanced breast cancer from the first day I met her) but I vividly remember Veronica and the very solid advice she gave me.

I changed things up by becoming a (reluctant) speaker because the business needed me to do so. The message needed sharing and there was an eager audience spanning the globe who were all waiting to hear what I had to share.

Business Growth

My work as a breast cancer advocate and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia was definitely business. The business was promoting awareness of breast cancer.

A business can only grow when you are willing to embrace change. You also need to have systems in place. Without systems, it’s a struggle to keep the performance level high – it’s also impossible to effectively grow.

No matter what kind of business you have – regardless of whether it is for or not for profit it is absolutely essential that you are willing and able to embrace change.

Change = Opportunity. Opportunity = growth.

It often means stepping right outside your comfort zone.

The challenge is being willing to step out, to step up and to make changes. To learn. To adapt. To release a little control through automating, delegating and outsourcing… so you can achieve your business goals.

It’s often just a few small tweaks to the way you’re doing business that can make a huge difference in your results.

It can be tough to work out what you need. But it’s definitely worth spending time on.

If you are not sure where to start and need some help figuring it out…reach out to us...you’ll soon be creating and maximising opportunities to take you to the next level. Promise! Don’t take our word for it…check out what others have to say.

Fly like a dragon!

Michelle

 

 

Bringing your ideas to life…means taking ACTION

You can have the very best idea in the world but unless you take action it will remain simply that – an idea. A dream.

It takes grit. It takes hard work.

Success comes from action. Dreams become reality when you are committed to WORKING for them

Spending time “thinking” or continually taking another course will not move you forward. Yes, you may have lots of theoretical learning, but…

ACTION is what leads to achievement.


Any action, even if it’s an imperfect action it is a move in the right direction.

You learn by implementing – it may not work the first time – that’s quite normal!  But you learn valuable lessons.

Heck, if I had been waiting for the perfect moment, I would never have achieved half of what I have.

And yes, I’ve made my own fair share of mistakes along the way too – but they are learning experiences.

Taking the plunge is not easy.

Failure is common…but dusting yourself off and learning from those mistakes is what propels you towards success.

Think of how a child learns to walk…

First by using all their strength to pull themselves up on whatever furniture is available (heck, some even use the dog!).

Then getting braver and lurching from handhold to handhold.

A few wobbly steps. A few landings on their nappy padded bum.

Do they give up?

No.

They stagger to their feet again continuing to try… leveraging off what is available. Eventually, they succeed …and are off and running. No stopping them!

It’s exactly the same when it comes down to business.

The theory is all well and good. But taking action…even if it is baby steps, is what that propels you towards your goals.

Struggling to take action steps?

Fear is natural.

Change takes time. Learning new skills takes practice, but the results are worth it.

Now here’s the thing…you can do all this on your own. Absolutely you can.

But…likely as not it will be a stop-start process as you battle alone through the hurdles and obstacles that inevitably pop up to challenge you.

As an adult in business, it’s not as easy to find handholds to leverage off. But, if you are open and actively searching they are there…in both paid and unpaid forms.

Unpaid forms

These typically include things like free workshops hosted by a range of organisations ranging from your local Business Development Offices, Chamber of Commerce, Live Webinars and even Facebook groups.

All of these are very valuable and have their place. They are especially helpful if you are bootstrapping and cash is very tight.

A word of caution; these can lead you down a number of rabbit holes and infect you with a case of SOS – Shiny Object Syndrome.

You know what I mean…

You hear all these great ideas and start to research or chase after them. The result is quite often that you lose your way and waste time.

Paid forms

These are more typically a workshop, course, business coaching and mentoring.

Prices fluctuate enormously and range from under $50 to well in excess of $10,000. When choosing what to pay for, it’s vital to do your research.

As with anything that you are paying for, it’s crucial to measure up if it’s the right fit for your business at this moment in time.

My recommendation is always to start with a short course/session with that particular consultant/teacher/presenter.

By starting off with a small investment you have the opportunity to assess whether you’re going to be a good ‘fit’ for each other. Mutual respect is crucial.

Engaging a business consultant/coach to help you is a way to fast track through the woods to get to the clearing on the other side.

It’s not cheap but it’s highly effective. It’s also not as expensive as you might think.

Having a great mentor or coach makes all the difference in the world. It’s what accelerates your development and growth. They are your encouragement, teacher and supporter. Grab my tip sheet on choosing the right person to work with.

Most important of all…you unlock your own truth so there’s no room for procrastination.

The truth can sometimes be a challenge to deal with, but if you’re serious about moving ahead…it needs to be faced.

If you’re struggling to move to the next level we specialize in offering actionable, momentum building support to help you….

Fly like a dragon!

Michelle

PS – check out this article by Brad Stulberg – 8 rules to do everything better.

Which words would you use to describe yourself?

An interesting post cropped up on social media this morning.

It went like this:

On those days that you’re just feeling like a BADASS — you’re clear, you’re productive, you’re feeling great — what word do you associate with, most?
For example, you kill it with your presentation or sign 3 clients, etc. 
“Damn I’m good. I’m such a ______!”

Everyone was then asked to vote for the word they would use and there was even a place to pop in your own word.

Word Choices

Of the choices, shown in the diagram below, I added the word SUCCESS as my word of choice.

The reason for my choice is this – when you’ve done a great job with a presentation or whatever it is you were working on, you’ve been successful. You’ve achieved your goal.

I personally do not like the word BADASS and would never apply it to myself.  To me, it is filled with negative connotations.

Yes, you may have won or achieved your goal, but what was the cost?  The word to me implies you’ve had to step on someone to achieve.

A badass is not what I would call a good thing to be calling yourself.

Or am I a dinosaur? I know these days the term is used to mean an achiever.

Connotations

I prefer words that have a positive connotation like Leader, Role Model, Success.

LEADER is a much better word than boss.  Simply because it gives the sense of bringing a team along with you. To me, it’s about empowering those around you to achieve (as opposed to bossing them about!)

HERO – I feel is a word others allocate to you, not for us to use to describe ourselves. Seems a tad big headed to me.

Words have power

Much more than you may realise.

The ones we use can make a real difference in how we think and feel.

My point is that it’s really important to choose the ones that resonate with you personally.  Especially when it’s a word you are going to be using on a regular basis in your own self-talk…perhaps even when you are speaking to others about your work.

As an example “She’s a real badass” vs “She’s such a success” – what pictures spring to your mind as you hear these words to describe someone?

Yes, we should never pre-judge based on words used to describe someone before we meet them, but the reality is…that’s exactly what each of us does. Right?

Which word would you choose to describe yourself when you’re clear, you’re productive and you’re feeling great?  Let me know in the comments below.

Michelle

Success…being successful – what does it take?

Success and being successful, whether it is in life or in business, means having a mindset that enables you to move ahead towards your goals.

A bunch of obstacles will always put themselves in your way. That’s life. What separates those who achieve success from those who don’t is how obstacles are handled.

In my experience, one of the biggest obstacles is often of our own making.

It’s called procrastination.

Procrastination presents itself in many different guises. The secret to avoiding being caught by this sneaky little disease is…

Being organised and….being disciplined!

This applies to both your personal and professional life.

Controls need to be in place to help maximise your time. This way you’re moving forward toward the results you want.

By being 100% honest you can easily pinpoint where you can cut down, chop out or build up your schedule.

When you truly want something you make time for it.

How much time do you spend on social media or watching TV, YouTube clips etc?

Ask yourself these two questions and be HONEST with your answers:

1)   Is it really necessary?

2)   Is my business really benefitting from this?

Sure we all need to have time out to refresh, reframe and relax BUT…

Spending a bunch of time watching and reading about what others are doing to move their businesses forward is not really helping you.

Think of it like this…they are telling you what they have achieved, persuading you to buy from them…their business is moving forward, but is yours?

Taking Action

Unless you are actively taking ACTION, rather than just consuming content, you are wasting your precious time.

When I started my career, many moons ago, there were no social media channels online.

Yep, I’m a dinosaur.

Instead, there were hard copy newsletters, conferences and key business events where there would be some top quality speakers. They were expensive – very expensive – so it was important to choose wisely.

BUT…here’s the thing…

Once the event was over, there was no Googling more information, listening to more Podcasts, watching more YouTube clips and more experts.

The conference, the piece you read in the newsletter or the event you attended would inspire you to take ACTION.

And that my friend, is the secret of success…taking momentum building steps each and every day that moves you forward towards your goals. Watching and listening is not ACTION!

This is why being organised and disciplined is so very crucial.

Getting organised

This means knowing what you need to do and when you need to do it.

In the early days of my career, I had a young family at home. Today I have adults in my life that I am caring for. My schedule needs to accommodate the time to go shopping for them, to spent time engaging in meaningful conversation and to take care of my own health.

Unless I am able to organise my work time, family time and “Me Time” there is no chance of everything getting done.

My secret weapon? It’s not exactly a secret…

Creating a plan and then using a MAP – measurable, achievable and progressive steps.

Having a MAP helps you keep on track.

It’s easy to meander – and hey, we all do this from time to time. That’s where the power of the MAP lies – getting you back on track after a meandering moment.

Just like all journeys, you need to plan your route. You need to know how you will get to your destination. By mapping out the key milestones, rest points, the quick look around and linger longer stays on your personal MAP you’ll be able to achieve your goals.

It doesn’t need to be highly complicated. Simple is best. The key is following that MAP once you have laid it out.

Time Management

Unless time is used wisely it slips away unnoticed – just like when you’re driving along and not paying attention. It’s so easy to miss a turn-off, especially if you’re on a busy highway with all the hustle and bustle of traffic flying past. You get in the zone and before you know it…

Darn! Missed your turn-off. You end up travelling further down the wrong road before you can come back in the right direction.

There’s a myriad of different tools and methods to choose from depending on what aspects of your time you are needing to manage. Different systems work for different people.

100-day blocks

One of my favourite methods is working in 100-day blocks.

Why?

Because it is enough to make sure things get done, and not too long that I am able to procrastinate – at least not for too long!

It means deciding in which blocks of time I’ll be implementing ideas and actions identified in my business journal.

It’s quite amazing what pops out of that journal. It’s my incubation spot.  Ideas pop into our heads very regularly.  If you’re like me, then you may not always have the time to implement them, but when you’ve  written them down, they are never lost.

Writing them down gets them out of your mind. It leaves you free to concentrate on tasks at hand. Writing your ideas in a business journal keeps them all in one place. Saves you losing them or having to hunt through a bunch of sticky notes or notebooks.

Concentrating in the present moment not only affords great productivity but allows you to fully focus on what you’re working on at any given moment.

When you focus on one particular aspect it’s very rewarding to see exactly how much you start achieving in a very short space of time.

What Success Looks Like

It’s really important to identify what success looks like to you. The reason being is that unless you know what it is that you want to achieve you will never be able to tell if you have got there.

You need to be able to measure and to identify when you have reached the goals you set for yourself.

And yes, goals can and do change over time.

It’s perfectly okay to set new goals but you must keep track of the ones you have already set, rather than dash off on another tangent. One step at a time is the key.

Life is very frustrating if you keep chasing something that always lies over the rainbow. You must enjoy the moment you are in. By embracing small successes along your journey you’ll start feeling so much more fulfilled, motivated and inspired.

A 360-degree successful life, to me, means being able to have the time to enjoy precious moments.

Moments to spend time with my elderly parents discussing garden plans and reminiscing. Time spent in conversation with my adult son. Girls sessions with my daughter. Going paddling, walking the dog and short sojourns devoted exclusively to me – that’s 360-degree success.

Having happy clients and feeling fulfilled by my work is integral to that life.  The fact I’ve received great testimonials, awards and recognition for my work is just the icing on the cake.

What does success look like to you? Let me know in the comments.

Fly like a dragon!

Michelle

PS You may like to join my private Facebook group The SMART Circle – a place dedicated to helping each other by sharing our knowledge and experiences. It is not a place where there are things for sale or a course to push. It’s simply about authentic connections.

 

4 Reasons Why Referrals Make Great Business Sense

Referrals. Gold for your business.

With the popularity of Facebook and online forums, establishing a good referral system is essential to your business prospecting activities.

Yet, when working with clients we are often surprised that many do not have a formal strategy in place.

Not having a referral strategy in place for your business is leaving money on the table.

Different Kinds of Referrals

Developing your strategy begins by being conscious of the power of referrals.

The more expensive something is going to be, the more likely referrals are to be the deciding factor.

This does not mean that more expensive is necessarily better. Rather it means the decision is more measured when it comes to items at a higher price point.

Similarly, when putting our trust in someone to handle things that are very personal to us…like our health. Or haircuts. Special occasions that will not be repeated.

Two of the main types of referrals are:

1) Online Reviews

How often do you check the online reviews on TripAdvisor when you’re in a new town? or on Facebook when you’re thinking of using a business for the first time?

I’m willing to bet you do that quite a lot! Am I right?

2) Personal Recommendations

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

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.

The Trust Factor

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.

When you’re new to a place, or looking for a service for the first time where do you look before making a decision?

These last few months I’ve been spending a lot of time in a new location – Bribie Island – I’ve found a hairdresser, a masseur as well as my airconditioning installer and electrician all through referrals.

Most of these referrals came from online recommendations in a local community group Facebook page. I then did my own due diligence and checked out their websites and also the profiles of the reviewers.

If you’re in business your online profile deserves your attention because you never know when you’ll be ‘snooped’ by a potential client.

Referrals definitely work!

Referral strategies need to have a key place in your business.

Even more so now that there is so much happening out there in the social media landscape. Tapping into that landscape is GOLD.

4 key benefits to your business

1 ) Customer acquisition costs are minimal.

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.

2) Customer retention rate is higher.

If people are happy with your services, they are most likely to keep doing business with you.

However, you also need to remain front of mind, so it’s important to maintain contact via a strategic communications plan.

3) The marketplace is crowded.

There is so much going on out there in “internet land.”It makes getting your message to stand out from the crowd difficult.

Who better than to recommend and refer you than happy clients/customers?

Remember, we value the advice and recommendations of our friends.

4) Conversion rates are generally higher.

A prospect introduced to your business by someone they trust is far more likely to convert into a new client/customer for you.

Spotting a potential referral opportunity

The old adage that an unhappy customer will tell everyone and a happy customer usually won’t say anything much is definitely true.

What this boils down to is this…

Communication.

You need to make the ASK.

1) Ask your customer to spread the good word about your business.

2) Be quite specific in your ask.

3) When you get a referral be sure to follow up and THANK whoever made the referral for sending business your way.

4) Continue to keep in touch AFTER the job is finished.

Keeping in touch is a vital part of the relationship building. You’re going that extra mile to make sure everything is running smoothly or, in the instance where there may be a problem, you can immediately offer a solution BEFORE it becomes a bigger issue.

If you haven’t got a system in place, it’s not too late to start!

You’ll be surprised at how easy it really is once you are open to creating and maximising the opportunities.

Need some help working out HOW to ask for referrals? Ask us and if you’re struggling to choose a business consultant to work with – check out our tip sheet.

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.

You need to KISS to unlock your opportunities

KISS is my favourite acronym.

You probably know that it stands for Keep. It. Simple. Stupid.

Now you think I’m being insulting.

I’m not.

It’s my favourite reminder to myself. Because I can tend to over think, over complicate, over analyse, and generally get over myself being over the top.

Keep It Simple Stupid

The only other person I voice KISS to is Michelle. This is because there aren’t many people who wouldn’t take this as gratuitous rudeness.

At least ones that won’t bop me upside the head for it.

Michelle’s too short to reach. Though I suppose she could bite my ankles like an enraged chihuahua. But she doesn’t. She uses KISS too. It’s become a bit of an ace acronym for us.

There’s nothing like a say-it-how-it-is sibling to bring you down to earth.

We may like to soar like dragons, shoot for the moon, blah blah blah, and we love all that. Love doing that.

But sometimes you’ve just got to get grounded. Get back to basics, if you like.

It’s a bit politer than telling Stupid to keep things simple. Or Simple not to be so stupid. Before I get into a rude roll, here’s the polite version:

Back to Basics

*An adjective – definitions:

1) Stressing simplicity and adherence to fundamental principles:

The movement suggests a back-to-basics approach to living for those whose lives have become complicated.

2) Emphasizing or based upon the teaching of such basic subjects as reading, arithmetic, grammar, or history in a traditional way.

Stressing simplicity and adherence to fundamental principles is essentially KISS.

Point 2 emphasizing or based upon the teaching of such basic subjects … I reckon, applies to any subject. We share and coach a lot on sales and marketing subjects.

The fundamentals never change. It’s not rocket science.

Putting the cart before the horse

We do many different things at Dragon Sisters.

Sometimes it can seem that we spear off on radical tangents from our core business.

People hire us for varied projects and for a variety of reasons.

Yet essentially, we’re contracted to do one thing for them: to communicate.

This might come with bolt-on requirements like research, analysis, strategy, coaching, consulting, content creation, whatever. Often, these sorts of requirements come first as the request for help.

Kind of like putting the cart before the horse.

The cart being what needs rolling out for their business or project, and the horse being the conveyance to get it to where they want it to be.

That conveyance boils down to communication.

Every time. It comes first.

Otherwise, nothing gets moved forward.

Some of the most talented people get nowhere near their potential, simply because they lack the expertise or experience to communicate effectively enough (even to themselves) to get results.

So, guess what – we use the KISS test on just about everything.

Especially when we get caught up in the enthusiasm of new concepts and are bursting with ideas. Or when we get stumped by something. Or when we get too fancy pants about something.

If you find yourself in any of those situations – stumped, wearing your fancy pants; carried away with your cart – or whatever, give it a try. Go back to basics. Get KISSing!

Then, you can

Fly like a dragon!

Yvonne

*Source: Dictionary.com Unabridged           Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.

Why you need to be ACTIVE on social media.

Being active on social media offers a great business advantage which is still overlooked by many small business owners.

It’s a cheap and effective way to keep in touch on a personal and business level. Yet it is often misunderstood and I regularly get this question….

Why am I missing posts? 

You’ve liked a page, but you’ve not seen anything from them for a while.

So you hop on over to pay a visit and guess what? There’s a heap of posts you have not seen!

You’ve liked the page, you clicked follow, you’ve set your settings up correctly and yet, you’re still missing out!

How is that possible?

The most likely cause is that you’ve not been engaging.

Think of it like this…

You know what’s happening in the lives of the friends that you see often. You share news, celebrations and commiserations together. You are interested and active in one another’s lives so are front of mind with each other.

When it comes to friends who you rarely see the situation is different.

You’re not up to date on their news. Sure social media is a way to connect, BUT….

Here’s the biggie…..

UNLESS you are actively interacting, you may not be fully in the picture.

You will miss things ….sometimes important stuff!

On a personal level, I missed out on news that someone I knew had a baby and that another had passed away.  I had not been active on their particular page for a while – even though we were Facebook friends.

At the business level, a few people have been telling me they missed out on the Dragon Sisters birthday promo. They had not seen it in their Facebook feed because even though they liked our page, they had not been interacting.

The key is to take an ACTIVE interest.

We all have a group of people we reach out to and make time for. As a result, we’re up to date on what’s happening in their lives.

On social media, it’s pretty much the same.  You can’t just pop up once in a while and expect magic to happen. Life doesn’t work like that and neither does social media.

The key word here is SOCIAL.

When you are social, you have a business advantage over those who are not actively harnessing the free tools readily available.

In a nutshell – if you’re not active, if you don’t interact then you’re likely to miss out on news.

When it comes down to Facebook, their algorithms are going to think you’re not interested and will stop showing you posts from those you do not interact with.

That’s what happened with the two friends I mentioned above….so

How to fix this?

By showing interest. You do this by liking and commenting on a regular basis.  Do this with your friends and with your business.

It’s like your real-time friendships…the more you look after them, the more you know what’s happening in their lives. It’s the same on social media.

Don’t have time?

Think of it like this….keeping up on social media needs a disciplined approach. For a couple of reasons, namely that it can become a big time waster… you can disappear down a rabbit hole and emerge to find 2 or 3 hours have gone past!

The second reason is if you’re posting without a strategy, you’re wasting your time.

Not what you want to happen!

Set aside a fixed time each day to work your channels.  Remember, you do not have to cover all the channels. Choose the ones that work best for you.

You only need 30 minutes per day to do a quick flick through, drop a few comments and likes.

When you are doing this as a business, or in business, it serves a two-fold purpose…

1) It signals to Facebook that you are interested so you’re more likely to be fed the posts.

2) YOU remain front of mind with those you are interacting with…so when they are looking for a service, you are more likely to pop into their heads as someone to contact.

Posting or Interacting?

Both!

It’s important to post on your business page so your fans know you are there, and it’s equally important (and sometimes more important) to interact.

Think of this time spent as an investment in your business…take it from me, the returns are definitely there.

If you are not interacting your name is not staying front of mind.

When you are in business – you need to interact!

Don’t think it would suit your business?

In this day and age, you have to really keep your finger on the pulse. Things move so fast and attention spans are short.

Fortunately,  technology makes it easy to do so. You may not like it much, but it’s the reality and it’s not going away.

More and more businesses are branching out to social media and you should too.  It can really raise your business profile.

Note I said raise your profile. This is very different from making sales.

Key Benefits

It’s cheap – in fact, it’s FREE unless you want to use advertising.

You get real-time feedback – if someone is unhappy, you know about it straight away.

Any reviews are there for the whole world to see and, as the page owner, you cannot delete them unless you delete ALL your reviews.

Similarly, if they are thrilled with a service their reviews are gold!

It’s authentic because you can click on the profiles and see who is commenting/interacting.

Bottom line….if you’re not maximising the free parts of social media, then you’re missing out on opportunities.

Fly like a dragon

Michelle

PS We do offer a short course on Understanding Facebook for Your Business – get in touch if you’d like to know more about it.