CHANGES = NEW OPPORTUNITIES

Changes are part and parcel of all our lives. From the day we arrive in this world, change is inevitable. We are constantly changing as we grow. Learning. Evolving. This goes on for our entire lives.

Being in business it’s exactly the same. Periods of growth and evolution. Changing is not unusual. Adapting to meet the demands of the marketplace and the needs of clients.

Sometimes changes are planned…other times they are thrust upon us by circumstances.

I’m currently finding myself in one of those “thrust upon you” changes. Not planned but something that has to be dealt with.

My ageing parents (almost 80 and 90) mean that I now need to be physically close to them. I have a lead role to play in helping care for them in their own home.

And you know what? I welcome the role.

They have taken care of me for my entire life, stood by me and seen me through ups, downs and bumps in the journey of life.

It is my turn to give back. To be close by. At hand to help as needed without being asked. It’s what our family does.

But of course this does have a massive impact on my business; big changes need to happen.

Changes needing to be managed

I’ve travelled my entire life. It’s never been a big deal for me to hop on a plane to meet clients, or to take Skype calls across time zones at weird hours.

BUT…that cannot continue…at least not for the immediate future.

So what does it mean for my business?

It means lots of juggling and in a nutshell, a bit of a restructuring.

I’ve spent many hours mulling everything over and thinking about what is possible in these new circumstances.

Challenges are actually opportunities…to explore other ways of doing things.

Opportunities

Opportunities come in many guises if we are open and receptive.

No point in looking at a door that is closed. Instead, it’s important to search for openings that lie ahead.

The result for me is:

1) Moving further into the online market.

What I have done for the last 10 years is help businesses move ahead by helping them to learn HOW to tackle challenges that prevent them from moving forward.

This can be done online; it actually works out a lot cheaper than having me on the spot. It makes my services more affordable and is actually a win/win.

Below are some of the things now available via online teaching:

  • Identifying your Unique Selling Point
  • Creating a Strategic Plan for your business
  • Elevating your brand profile without being ‘salesy’
  • Building a marketing/sales funnel
  • Understanding the power of social media and harnessing it to help your business
  • The key steps to take to CLOSE a sale without coming across as pushy

I am still here to answer the questions, but there is a component delivered via the modules.

Benefits

Way cheaper for a start!

Access to the modules at a time.

Queries are answered through weekly online sessions and via a private Facebook group. It’s not quite as instantaneous as one on one but the cost benefits make our services more affordable to many.

2) Less Travel

I can’t just hop on a plane to fly overseas or around Australia. Bookings for my in-person presence need to be scheduled well in advance.

Thankfully the Refresh, Reframe & Relax trips to Bali is still going ahead – next one in November – I am looking forward to it on so many levels!

3) Increasing the Writing Bureau output

Ghostwriting, grant writing, sponsorship proposals and of course our favourite area…

…supporting authors taking them from the idea stages to the finished and marketed product.

Never widely promoted previously, this is an area that has been steadily growing since Sasha joined the team; we’ll be ramping it up further.

Coping with changes

Coping capacities are determined by mindset and attitude. Being individuals means we each react in different ways, but being in business means it’s important to be proactive.

I’m getting feedback that I must be Wonder Woman, being able to put together business proposals, deliver workshops and also deal with current family circumstances. I’m no such thing – although it is flattering 🙂

The reality is simply this – learning to be resilient and excellent time management. It’s a skill I’ve picked up over many years.

I’ve also learnt that when you are open and using a smarketing mindset, there is always an opportunity.

The opportunity often means adapting to what circumstances present themselves. Looking forward…not backward. Being grateful for what you have.

I’m extremely grateful to still have my parents.

If you’d like to help me with this next phase of my business I would you to get in touch or recommend me to anyone who’d benefit from my new model of service.

Fly like a dragonFly 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.

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.

The next big thing in marketing?

The next big thing in marketing may just be happening on LinkedIn.

In the digital age, everything happens super fast.

Why Video Marketing?

The demands on our time are excessive and often, immediate.

Which is understandable. In the digital age, everything happens super fast.

Could this be why video and live feeds rate so highly on social media
and are given preferential (at the moment) positioning by those platforms?

That means that e.g. the way Facebook sets its algorithms determines what you see on your newsfeed.

But we do our best to flag what’s going on to our networks.

Marketing via LinkedIn Video

For instance, did you know that LinkedIn is rolling out their video offering?

I got the heads up from a connection on that platform.

Another good example of how we can all help one another ?.

Different Ponds for different marketing

It immediately occurred to me that I know of at least two SMEs who have fabulously successful businesses with business to consumer markets, and who, are positioning themselves to sell their businesses.

There’s another business ready to move to the next level and needs investors.

Suddenly, they need to be in a different pond to attract the right buyer/investor.

The business to business pond.

They’re more likely to find good leverage for their new goal from the LinkedIn network, than from Facebook business pages.

A lot of us are saying that LinkedIn has been slow coming to the visual party. Way behind Facebook for instance.

We all know how phenomenal Facebook Live has been for reaching and engaging target markets. But, hey LinkedIn, better late than never, right?

So far as Michelle and I are concerned, we strongly recommend that no one dismisses such new offerings.

You may not need it now. But like the businesses I’ve referred to, neither did they 12 months ago.

Now, it’s a whole new ball game.

You never know what the next opportunity might be! Or where, or from which platform.

So, it’s a really good idea, to maintain a presence across two or so key ones, and keep an eye on the others.

Here’s a great piece that explains what the LinkedIn offering will mean for businesses and for marketing those businesses:

LinkedIn’s new feature has the potential to be a game changer in B2B.

Fly like a dragon!

Yvonne

Building Your Email List

Building your email list is vital to your business.

Why?

Because it helps to famine proof it. It allows you to connect directly with your audience.

Sure, you can use social media, but if that goes away, you have no way of connecting IF you don’t have their emails.

When you write an authentic and helpful email, you make strong connections. You are building relationships in a genuine way.  But, you can’t write to people unless you have an address.

One of the best ways to gather email addresses is with a lead magnet. No doubt you’ve heard that term several times. But perhaps you’re not entirely clear on WHAT a lead magnet is.

What’s a Lead Magnet

In a nutshell…

A lead magnet is something you offer in exchange for the recipients email address, so it needs to be something pretty useful and of value to the recipient.

How It Works

Basically it’s an information exchange. You have something they want, and they have something you need – their email address.

It’s an old fashioned trade except it’s happening in the digital space.

They give you their address and you provide access to the promised lead magnet.

You’ll need a system to collect email address and a way to deliver the promised magnet to their inbox. There are many different options at lots of different price points and what you choose will depend very much on your budget and the features you require.

What makes a good Lead Magnet?

That very much depends on your audience, but the bottom line is that it needs to be of value/helpful.

For instance, you could have a closed Facebook group, a refer a friend program, an ebook, a tip sheet, a contest with a fabulous prize …you get the idea?

There are lots of different options – limited only by your imagination, knowledge and budget. It’s important chose the right one for your audience.

Most businesses use a few different ones and play around to find the best one for their audience.

Remember that audiences are savvy. People are wise to the fact that if they give you their email they risk getting email overwhelm.

So you have to be very strategic in what you offer. It all comes down to value. You have to be able to tempt them with something they will find useful. Preferable with a few actionable tips that are of value and can be put into motion immediately.

If you’d like some help brainstorming what to offer your audience reach out and we’ll help you through the process.

Fly like a dragon!

Michelle

PS – to check out some of our most popular Lead Magnets – click this link. 

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

 

How to effectively toot your own horn

How to effectively toot your own horn, and promote yourself and your business without looking like a complete self promoter is something that so many of us grapple with.

Do you find it easy to toot your own horn?

If you’re like a zillion other business people I know, then your most likely answer is going to be no. And that’s a perfectly normal answer.

Learning how to promote yourself without sounding like you’re bragging is not always the easiest thing to do. If you feel uncomfortable you are not alone.

It seems a bit braggish to be boasting about how wonderful you are. Braggish – is that even a word?

Nothing more annoying that those people who pop up all over the place telling you how wonderful they are, full of their own importance and it’s all about them. You know the kind I mean. Very rarely share anything about anyone else, just tell you all about themselves. They kind of tend to be the same in real life too – never stop to take breath or ask anyone else about how they are doing.

On the other hand, you kind of have to admire the size of their ego and the fact that they are totally oblivious to anything but themselves, their own needs and wants.

SO – how do you tell people how wonderful you and your business are without coming across as being full of ego?

Well, here’s the thing.

I have spent a great many years working in the not for profit sector. Most people in this sector are amazingly giving and generous with their time and knowledge. They do what they do for others, rather than themselves. Sure, they may get paid, but the wages are paltry compared with the corporate world.

I crossed from corporate to not for profit and now into the world of self employment.

I always found it very easy (and I still do) to promote a charity or a cause that I am working for. That’s because I only work with nice people and causes I believe in.

It’s very easy to ask for money for others. It’s easy to ask for support for a charity.

When it came down to promoting myself, that was a whole diferent kettle of fish. I had one major stumbling block.

The difficulty was…..

Making the ask for myself. When I first returned to Australia, I needed to let people know that I was looking for business locally.

It was not easy.

Up until that point, I had never needed to ask for myself.

I felt uncomfortable actively telling people about my own credentials and successes. It felt like I was bragging. I’ve never been particularly good at the me, me, me thing.  In my business successes I’ve always put my achievements down to whole teams efforts, crediting those working me for their contributions.

Then I realised that all these people I have helped, people who said they admired my work, were actually very willing to help me move ahead in my business.

The problem was…..

They did not know I needed help.

What I had to do was ask. They were not mind readers.

Ok, I had to do a little bit more than ask.  I needed to be clear about HOW they could help me and be specific about WHAT I wanted them to do.

I found LinkedIn a truly valuable tool for helping promote my business skills.  It was a place people could look me up, and the recommendations, honours and awards on my profile did the horn tooting for me.

Click here to grab a copy of our 8 Top Tips for using LinkedIn

I also honed my  pitch, so that I could quickly explain

“Dragons Sisters can help you to connect, convert and sell. We do this through strategic communication and a proven formula of Smarketing – strategy, sales and marketing.”

The team at Dragon Sisters has many talents, but it all boils down to helping clients with connecting, converting and selling.

To understand more about what it takes to connect, convert and sell  Click here to grab your copy of our FREE e-book on How to Create Engagement with Strategic Communication. It’s packed with engagement tips and information to help you succeed.

Once I started to express exactly what we do, the business stared to flow and we’ve not looked back. In fact, it’s rather nice to be in the position that we have many repeat clients and lots of word of mouth referrals.

To  each and every one of the businesses we’ve worked with – THANK YOU! It’s been a great pleasure to help you move your businesses forward.

Michelle

 

 

 

Pricing Your Services

Pricing your services.  One of the most important items you’ll ever need to consider as a service provider that’s self-employed

Getting your price point right is crucial to your business success.

It’s also the area that can give you the biggest headache…believe me, I know this from personal experience.

The million dollar question!

What price should you charge?

Depending on your industry and qualifications there are some standard rates….but, the real dilemma is this…

Making sure you are charging what is right for you. For your business. Not just going with what is considered standard or the going rate.

Working in the corporate world, there are things like awards, employment contracts, and benchmarks against which salaries are set. So as an employee you don’t really need to think about this stuff too much.

But, once you step out on your own, it’s a lot different.

It can be a minefield…lots of traps to fall into and mistakes to make.

One of the most common ways is by comparing what everyone else in the marketplace is charging. But let’s be real….in the service industry, it’s really quite hard to compare.

You’re not here to be a copycat.

Being in business for yourself means doing things your way. Doing what’s right for you…after all, isn’t that why you’re working for yourself?

This may not be what you want to hear…but if you’re just starting out unless you already have a stellar reputation and following, you’ll probably need to start off at a lower price.

This does not mean undervaluing yourself.

A far better way of figuring out how to set your fees and charges is beginning with a basic price point and building from there.

The tricky part is always working out your personal basic price point. Downloading this handy tip sheet will help you enormously..

Once you have the basic (minimum) price point from which you need to operate, you can actually use how you price your services as a way to grow your business.

That does not mean you are going to be working at the minimum price point.

It’s about giving you a realistic figure from which to build. You need this baseline so you can be ready to implement an effective pricing strategy.

An effective pricing strategy will help ensure that you are charging what you is right for your business.

A pricing strategy involves:

1) Your selling sequence (how to position services; how to position pricing)

2) Your target market (who you sell to now and who you want to sell to in the future)

3) Your competitors (making yourself competitive other than through pricing)

4) What the market will bear (this is the exciting bit that moves you into the premium price point!).

But it all starts with the basic fees.

No matter what line of business you’re in how you work out your service fees are exactly the same.

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.