Time Is On My Side …..or is it?

The Rolling Stones

Time is on my side, yes it is …

Remember those lyrics?

I do!

Except for these days, I’m a cynical old rocker and sing along ‘Time is on my side, no it’s not’. So, sue me. Maybe Mick Jagger will … sigh … ?.

Well, daydreaming about rock gods of my generation doesn’t get stuff done, does it?

Ooh – now I’ve leapt into The Who talkin’ ‘bout my generation lyrics (from their album My Generation).

If you’re following Michelle’s Facebook Live Q&A, on the Dragon Sisters Facebook Page on Wednesdays, you’ll be noticing that managing your time seems to be a common recurrent theme.

We’re all of us always looking for tips, tools, resources to make it easier to keep pace with our super-fast tech-world and digital doings. To give us a hand in keeping up with our business, our clients – and our competitors!

The old saying the early bird gets the worm rings true. But how the hickory-dickory-dock do you get up early enough? With international time zones, it can seem like your clients never sleep – at least in terms of your time zone. And who wants a worm anyway? Not me! But a lively, wriggly prospective client? Sure. I’ll be up for that. And early! And rocking!!

How to keep a rocking

My favourite of Michelle’s tips is

5) Break times – Set yourself designated break times and stick to them. Leave your desk, and if possible go outside into the fresh air.

Don’t eat at your desk, take the time to chat with colleagues or read a magazine/chapter from a book, listen to some relaxing music or whatever appeals to you.

Three guesses what appeals to me … listening to the Rolling Stones, The Who, the who-ever – that’s my relaxation; plus, it gets me buzzing ?. Maybe not quite Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in D Minor to soothe … but it does it for me. And she did say whatever appeals to you.

By the way, if you like the classics (other than rock classics) I do highly recommend Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in D Minor. If you’re feeling frazzled that is definitely a go-to.

But for me … rock on!

Fly like a dragon

Yvonne

Effectively Communicating with a Virtual Assistant (VA)

A good working relationship with a virtual assistant (VA) comes down to clear communication that leaves no room for misunderstanding.

Heck, I think you can safely say that good communication is so important on all fronts and facets of life, not just business.

Everyone wants to be cooperative.

But unless you know what is expected, it can be really hard.

This is especially true when it comes to a business relationship and even more so when it exists in the virtual world.

Effectively communicating is the key to success on so many different fronts.

In my Facebook Live Q&A Wednesday I talked a little about using VA’s and it seems that it really struck a chord. Over 6 thousand views.

I’ve been innunated with PM’s, emails and the odd phone call with anecdotes and stories of experiences with VA’s. Some were on the positive side, many were negative and some just wanted clarity on what tasks a VA could do.

VA’s can do almost everything that does not require a physical presence.

However, the key to having a successful relationship is nailing down your requirements. AND communicating them clearly.

This post, on Effectively Communicating with Your VA was written by dear Bibi, who unfortunately passed away earlier this year. Vale Bibi Van Heerden – your wisdom continues to assist so many travelling the business journey.

We’re very fortunate to have a team of excellent VA’s that work with us here at Dragon Sisters.

It’s taken trial and error.

We’ve honed our skills at briefing, and we’re continually learning how better to communicate with our team.

You also need to keep in mind that many VA’s do not come from English as a first language background. So although they have fantastic skills, unless the briefing is clear, the results may not be exactly what you expected (or wanted).

If you have stories to tell of working with a VA, we’d love to hear them in the comments below. Similarly, if you are a VA, we’d love you to share your best tips for successful client relationships.

Fly like a dragon

Michelle

 

 

 

My Secret Weapon

It’s Wednesday, halfway through the week, and rather than an ‘aha!’ moment, I’m having an ‘aaargh!’ moment.

When I was a fledgeling sales person, a trainer told me to avoid making cold calls on a Wednesday. He advised that at the mid-stage in the week, people started to feel a bit on the back foot and would give any sales caller short shrift, sending them marching, before there was the least chance of getting a toe over the threshold.

My problem’s rarely my feet (other than the one I tend to jam in my mouth fairly frequently), but rather, my hands – I reckon I could really rock the multi-arm Hindu goddess look.

Unfortunately, I don’t have multiple hands to juggle the week’s jobs.

Fortunately, I have something even better!

Want to know what my secret weapon is?

A Virtual Assistant.

Actually, Dragon Sisters has several VA’s, who are some of my favourite people on the planet. Especially when I get to off-load jobs I’m rubbish at, slow at, or stuff I just hate doing!

Having a VA is like having a fairy god person complete with a wand to magic stuff for you.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

That’s because it is!

If you want to know more, here’s Michelle’s Free yourself up with a Freelancer article, which applies to selecting a Wunderkind VA too.

Plus, where to find them and how to pick a good one.

Now, I’m off to email my Aargh Moment into the ether where it will be magically transformed into an Aha Moment, by a very talented VA ???.

Nothing like breaking out your Secret Wednesday Weapon ?.

Fly Like A Dragon

Yvonne.

Nothing is all Lattes and Laughs …

The Truth About Being Your Own Boss

On Wednesday Michelle and I sat down together for the first time in over three weeks. Being your own boss is awesome when you can kick back over an excellent fresh ground coffee to shoot the breeze. But we were working. Honest!

Shooting the breeze is a weekly event, even if only via Skype sometimes (which I love because Michelle can’t see my fluffy Pokémon slippers).

It’s when we check out what’s going well, what’s to be improved (for Dragon Sisters as well as for our clients), what’s to be ditched or tweaked. And, best of all, it’s a big fat brainstorm on what we want to do next.

Read: what the business needs next. Or sometimes, right this minute!

One massive advantage of being a small business is that you can make fast decisions and get them happening quicker than Superman can put his tights on.

Being small means being agile is a breeze.

I like to think that whilst we’re Mini in size, boy are we Ferrari fast! By lunchtime, we were ready to launch a new product. For a new market.

Exciting!! Had this been Skype my Pokémon’s would have been doing their Happy Pokémon Prance.

This evening, as I was pondering the subject for this week’s blog, it occurred to me that many of our readers are just like us. Some, are making their first foray into being an SME (small to medium enterprise). And I thought, this really hasn’t been a breeze. Ten years on, it’s easier, but let’s be honest, nothing is all Lattes and Laughs.

The difference between working ON your business and working IN your business

Michelle wrote a very real view on The Truth About Being Your Own Boss last year.

It has some insightful tips, like the difference between working on your business and working in your business.

Plus, 5 Tips for Working ON Your Business. Super easy, super do-able tips you can use now – cos you too are Ferrari Fast.

She also mentions one of our private Facebook groups, which you can check out, and join us there if you like the idea of an authentic Q&A platform with folk just like you and us. You can also promo your business, share and get ideas, and even on occasion, Opportunities ?. You know how I love the O word!

Fly Like A Dragon

Yvonne




The Truth About Being Your Own Boss

Maybe you’re already your own boss, or maybe it’s something you aspire to be in the not too distant future.

Unless you’re totally cut off from the online world and social media, then you’ve no doubt read stories or seen ads popping up in your social media feeds featuring “successful” entrepreneurs posing in fancy cars, jets or sitting on a beach sipping cocktails.

The internet is overflowing with these kinds of success stories – they are everywhere – LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and the list goes on.

Are they true? Maybe. But that’s not the point.

My point is this…the stories are all about chucking in boring jobs, starting their own business, making millions and sitting on a beach watching the money roll in.

Sounds like a dream life. Right?

It’s absolutely true that when you start your own business and work for yourself you have the freedom to do as you like.

You have no one else to answer to except yourself. Total freedom.

Hmmm, …idyllic BUT not quite that simple.

Even for those who are at the very top of the tree, there’s still a ton of work to be done behind the scenes.

Yes, it’s definitely true that you have freedom in the sense you get to choose what to do and when to do it. But… only to a certain extent.

I currently have my own business and have owned a couple of others prior to starting Dragon Sisters 10 years ago. I do, on the surface, have freedom and flexibility to do as I like.

The Truth

However, the reality of being your own boss is a little different.

The bottom line is this … It all comes down to your own efforts to succeed. You are in the driver’s seat and 100% responsible.

You are your own hero.

The truth is, as someone who runs their own business, the onus always lies on you to bring in the $$.

Of course, the more successful you are, the less pressure there is on bringing in the basics to cover the day-to-day essentials.

However, here’s the thing…

No matter how successful you are, you still need to be out there smarketing.

You need to be paying attention to your strategy, sales and marketing.

For instance, coming back to my own example, even when I’m fully booked up I’m still out there adding in workshop dates, interacting on social media and attending a couple of face to face events.

I’m actively keeping my brand out there.

Why do you need to do this?

No matter what your product or service is unless you continue to pay attention to your profile in the marketplace, you cannot stay front of mind.

This is why all the top names spend time and money doing tours, running workshops, marketing via social media and much more. They are constantly on the lookout for ways to stay ahead of the game, to be at the forefront.

When you stop and think about this, it makes absolute sense. The world moves at a fast pace today and there is so much competition for attention.

The Danger Zone

As you start to get ahead you begin to feel confident. That’s a great feeling. Things are going in the direction you want, so you start to relax a bit. After all, you’ve done the hard work.

This is the danger point.

Unless you have robust systems in place, you cannot expect to just take off and leave your business to tick along.

I’ve seen this happen all too often. Good people going down the tubes because they’ve failed to famine proof the business by having systems in place. Their radars are not alert to nuances of change or to opportunities for growth.

NOOO! I want to scream out. Sure, take a little break to refresh and relax, but you must also reframe your thinking.

Yes, take a holiday. Yes, take time for yourself, but have a plan in place for things to be managed while you are away.

Make sure you are personally looking over reports, check in on your own social media channels and keep your radar alert for anything that is out of the ordinary.

It makes me want to cry when I see people who have spent months, perhaps years, building businesses to a point of success and then taking their foot off the accelerator when the pressure to succeed eases.

I have made this very mistake myself, and I speak from experience and lessons learnt.

Keep the focus on your business no matter what.

It’s the old adage “momentum flows where attention goes.”

If your attention is not on your business then it loses momentum.

Notice I used the word ON rather than in?

This is a really important differential.

When you work ON your business, you’re taking a helicopter perspective. You have a vision, you see opportunity and you maximise wherever you can.

Working in your business means your head is down, occupied with the detail and minutia. You cannot see the woods for the trees.

As your business grows, it is vital to take the time to work ON the business, as opposed to in it. This is what those highly successful people sitting on the beach are doing. They’re working on their business – always.

The being your own boss formula is simple. Put in the time and your business will grow.

If you love what you do and have a real passion for it, then it no longer seems like work.

6 Tips for Working ON Your Business

1) Set aside 20 minutes a day (5 days a week) dedicated to your personal marketing activities.

This does not mean pushing out brand messages. It means interacting. Remember, people buy people so you need to maintain your presence to stay front of mind.

2) Be consistently attentive

People remember those who bother to respond personally. Don’t fall into the trap of only responding or reaching out when you want something.

3) Regularly view your business revenue streams.

What can you tweak? What should you ditch? What can you add?

4) Delegate/Outsource.

Consider what tasks can be handled by others freeing you up to concentrate on what you do best.  This FREE tip sheet may be helpful when it comes to choosing a consultant to outsource to.

5) Actively listen to your marketplace.

Be truly attentive to what they are saying in order to meet their needs. It’s not about selling your product or service, it’s about offering a solution to their problem.

6) Set aside time for yourself each day – to refresh, reframe and relax.

This is not an indulgence but essential to your personal well being. Time for yourself means you have a chance to allow still the chatter in your mind. Meditation, journalling and walking are some of my personal favourite ways of grabbing “me time” each day.

Nurturing your success

Starting your own business is an adventure. One that comes with many ups, and downs, but brings with it many rewards.

Your ongoing nurturing will ensure your business continues to thrive.  You’ll be able to sit on the beach and your efforts in working on the business are helping it become famine proof.

If you want the freedom to follow your passion, then owning your own business and being your own boss is fantastic. I have never looked back. Sure there are hurdles to overcome at times, but I love what I do.

The photograph I’ve used for this post was taken with fellow Telstra Business Women’s Awards alumni – Denise Dunn from Slappa’s Thongs and Nathalie Hernandez from Ella Bache Palmerston .

To your success,

Michelle

PS Need a little support or got questions? Feel free to connect and ask your questions on our Facebook page

 

Working Smarter Not Harder – the key to succeeding

My daughter came home from school this afternoon, with her exam results. Ellie was pretty happy with them all except one subject. Though she was philosophical about the one disappointment.

Not because she has a ‘whatever’ attitude (I want to slap anyone silly who says that in my hearing), but because she knew she could expect no better, learning that the last two years of high school are nothing like what went before, realizing that, as she said, “Grade 11 is different, it’s all about time management and working under pressure.”

In other words, it’s getting into the realm of the real-life work environment. Ellie knew she had sacrificed one subject to excel in the others; moreover, she knows she can’t afford to do that.

Only 24 Hours In A Day

Like you and me, my daughter has only so many hours in the day to get her work done and to do it to an acceptable standard. Plus, there’s the work-life balance thing to juggle: family, friends, sport, Saturday job, chores and, just stuff.

At the end of her first term in Grade 11, she asked me, “Do you think I should give up basketball?” With travel, training and matches, it pretty much wipes out two nights a week.

Answer: “No! You just have to work smarter, not harder.”

Read: work hard but be strategic, rather than working longer.

After all, I don’t want to end up with a pale, pasty, nerdy kid, who looks, and feels, like a rat on a wheel. Time enough for that when she joins the workforce! Though hopefully, she’ll be good enough at making her own ‘luck’ by then to find work she’s passionate about, rather than put upon in a job she’s as enthusiastic about as the last lemming over the cliff.

Not just a school thing

It dawned on me that Dragon Sisters really grew out of exactly Ellie’s predicament.

Time poor people, turning to us to help them strategize and execute the most crucial aspect of their business: how to connect, convert and sell to their target market.

In other words, we found our niche market which matched up with our experience and expertise. Before that, we spent a lot of time running very hard (visualizing that rat on a wheel?), for way less results.

Once we found our niche, things got a lot easier for Michelle and I. We learnt to work smarter not harder. But back then, we thought it was normal to have not a nanosecond to ourselves. Because, as we all know, SME owner operators are amongst the hardest workers in the world, right? Right!

One of the first priorities to slip down the slippery slide of being sooo busy, is not having enough time to do a good enough job of creating and maximising opportunities for your business. Like Ellie, that’s not something you can afford. Dropping the ball on that one, translates to one thing: loss of sales revenue. Eeek!

There are many reasons that small businesses start talking to us. But the common denominator is this: they are feeling the pain.

Now, unless you’re stuck in the ‘80s and a fan of Jane Fonda’s Feel The Burn school of thought, you’re unlikely to be enjoying the sensation of pain, burn or anything else that smacks of subjecting yourself (and your business) to the less than pleasant.

The pain point we’re most familiar with at Dragon Sisters, is when you’re worried that you’re losing your market share, or that you’re not getting the results your business needs and wants, or you’re just not able to take your business to the next level successfully. We know how that feels. We’ve been there! So have many others …

A similar story

I want to share with you, an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald, by Bhakthi Puvanenthiran, last August, entitled Working smarter not harder: How to avoid small business trends in western Sydney. Mr. Puvanenthiran wrote:

The study by NRMA Business Insurance found that business owners in the west take fewer leave days, feel more stressed and don’t sleep as well at night. So how do you escape that cycle and still stay a small business person? Northmead tradie turned agent, Allen Cetinic found a way out.

“Yes that used to be me,” the former renderer told Fairfax Media.

“I used to work eight hours as a tradie and then three hours in the afternoon or evening doing invoicing, chasing money, doing website and legal claims and throwing emotional energy into that. I used to work weekends. My quality of family life was really deteriorated,” he said.

Twelve months ago Cetinic left rendering, which he had been doing for 15 years, after spotting a gap in the market.

Sound familiar? Whether you’re a tradie or not, live in western Sydney or not, (and Dragon Sisters is neither of these), the message resonates with every small business person, don’t you think?

If you want to read the full article, it’s here.

We’re all in the same (dragon) boat – from Grade 11 onward – you’re not on your own that’s for sure!

Need helping figuring out how you can work smarter and not harder? We’re only an email away.

Fly like a dragon!

Yvonne

PS – part of working smarter means having time to enjoy what you love, like walking the dog along the beach at sunset. Don’t you just love this photo?