Procrastination the enemy of productivity – are you guilty?

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

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

Encouraging Productivity

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

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

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

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

Check Lists

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

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

There’s an App for that

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forced time offline

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

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

To unplug.

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

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

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

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

Sasha Hanton

 

MAXIMISING YOUR LUNCHTIME

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

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

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

BUT…here’s the thing…you need to eat! So maximising that time for your own benefit makes good sense – right?

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

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

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

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

Alone Time

Choosing to spend time alone, to sit in the park/at the beach will give you silence. In that stillness, you have the chance to reflect quietly. You’ll often get to hear your inner voice that has been drowned out by the chattering monkeys.

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

Actively Being Out & About

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

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

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

Group Lunches

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

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

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

Lunch & Learn Sessions

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

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

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

The objective is always that participants leave having learnt something of value – not just had a great lunch. Details of upcoming sessions are always on our Facebook page.

Scheduling

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

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

If you are struggling to get started with this habit, begin with a day a week, and gradually increase it over a period of a month. Once you start to consciously work on maximising your time, you’ll be surprised at how easy it can become. More importantly, the benefits that you gain are invaluable.

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

Fly like a dragonFly like a dragon!

Michelle

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

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

Facebook Groups – Time Management

Facebook groups and time management can often present a huge challenge.

Running your own group or being part of one can be extremely beneficial for your business.

BUT…

It’s really important to be able to understand what your objective is.

It only works to your advantage if you can control how much time you spend in the group…

AND… you are really clear on your purpose for being in the group.

Identifying your WHY

In order to successfully utilise and enjoy being part of a Facebook group, it’s vital to understand why you are there.

Is it to learn?

If this is the case, make sure that members are knowledgeable and generous with sharing.

Or maybe, you are just there to learn how other people run their groups. That’s fine too, but remember that each group reacts differently and it all hinges on the personalities involved, so what is working for one group may not always work for another.

Is it to teach and share your own knowledge?

Be sure that the admin of the group will welcome what you have to share. This can cause angst if the admin is not generous in spirit and sees you as “competition”.

To find potential clients?

This is definitely the most common reason most business people are in groups – although there is some exception (like our SMART Circle.)

If this is your reason, you need to be prepared to share your knowledge in a non-sales way.

Most importantly have a strategy going into the group.

After all, you want to share but you don’t want to give so much away that no one will need to pay for your services.

Size matters

The bigger the group the more there is to keep on top of.

It’s important not to make the mistake of thinking you have to comment on every post or read everything that goes up.

Big groups are not necessarily always super active. As a general rule, there tends to be a small core of active participants with the rest being “lurkers”.

When you first join a group take the time to look around. Then write a small introduction about yourself. Chances are you’ll get a few welcomes below your post – these are the people who are, likely as not, the most responsive members.

My personal observation is that smaller groups tend to be a lot more interactive than larger ones.

Spend your time wisely

Being active in groups can be a huge time drain. The first step is in recognising and acknowledging this.

Once you know the potential for time to gallop away it’s much easier to guard against it.

1 ) Be firm with yourself

Make a rule about when you will be in the groups.  Plan this into your diary.

What works for me is to pop into the groups I am a member of first thing in the morning and then again in the evening – not every day.

Spending 5 minutes skimming through the content is normally sufficient.

Do not be tempted to read every single comment unless the subject is something you really need to learn about or have expert knowledge on.

2) Build relationships

Commenting on a few key posts rather than hitting like on a whole bunch is much more effective.

A comment is way more valuable than simply liking. By taking the time to comment you are building relationships.

Typically members ask questions in groups. They are searching for answers. Answer the questions that relate to your area of expertise.

3) Know when it’s time to leave

After a few weeks in a group, if you are not getting valuable engagement that is either helping you or your business to grow, it’s time to pull the pin. There is no rule that says you need to stay.

Use the tools available

There are some very handy tools available on Facebook that help with managing what appears in your feeds and your time in the group.

Search

Use the search function to find questions/discussions on topics that you are interested in answering/learning more about. This way you don’t have to scroll through all the posts. It’s especially helpful in very active groups or if you’ve had a short break.

Notifications

When you like or comment on a post, if you don’t turn off the notifications you can end up with a whole stream of notifications pinging your way.

Similarly, if you want to follow a post, simply because you are interested, but you don’t necessarily want to comment, you can turn on the notifications.

Copy Link

Even better than turning on the notifications – if it’s something you want to refer back to – grab the link and paste it into an Excel spreadsheet.

You can then come back to visit it later when you have more time.

Turn Off Commenting

This one is great when you have a post that is getting heaps of engagement, but it’s now way past time the subject closed. You have the option to delete your post or better yet, just turn off commenting. That way nothing else can be added but everyone can still read it.

One final tip

Limit the number of groups you belong to.

Work out how much time you can afford to spend engaging. Then count up the groups you’re in to come up with a realistic figure of what time you can actually afford without it impacting on other areas of your business and personal life.

By limiting the number of groups you belong to you’ll end up being able to offer better value and create stronger relationships.

If found this helpful let me know in the comments.

Fly like a dragonFly like a dragon

Michelle

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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.

100 day goals

I love 100-day goals.

Why? For the simple reason that they are so tangible and…

Achievable!

100 days is just a little over 3 months.

The reason I love working in 100-day blocks is that you can actually see how you are progressing.

There is a finite timeline, and at the end, you’re expecting a result.

Why it works

The reason is simply this…it’s not too far into the future. You do not have the luxury of taking your eye off the ball.

The focus has to be on pushing to move forward each day. This means you can actually see your progress – or if you slack off, you’ll have to rush to catch up.

Procrastinating is not an option.

100 days may sound like a good amount of time, but the reality is that it goes whizzing pass! It is also far more tangible than setting 6 or 12-month goals

To achieve 100 day goals means being disciplined.

Discipline is the secret

Think about it, it’s really easy to waste a few hours here and there.

For example, spending too much time on social media, allowing your routine to be interrupted without a valid reason, neglecting to switch your email to offline mode, and so the list goes on.

With 100-day goals, you are on a countdown timer. There is a finite amount of time and you have a set goal ahead of you.

To get there needs discipline.

No excuses.

No time to go down rabbit holes – and yes, there are a zillion rabbit holes waiting for you to end up down.

There is no time for saying could have, would have, should have.

You just need to get the show on the road by taking the steps to move towards your set goal.

Measurable, Achievable & Progressive – MAP

Ever action you take towards your goal needs to be mapped out.

If you don’t follow your MAP, it is highly likely that you’ll deviate or get totally lost.

The key to succeeding and achieving is by being disciplined and setting realistic goals that you work towards one step at a time.

Daily Habits

Yes, habits. Things that you do every day.

One of the worst habits is timewasting, blaming and procrastinating. To achieve your goals these habits need to be shut down.

Good daily habits need to be adopted if you want to move forward.

Actionable steps need to become a part of your daily routine.

Breaking your business days into time blocks works wonders.

Time Blocks

Choosing your time blocks will depend on what you are wanting to achieve and the nature of your business.

The minimum blocks that ones I find myself always recommending are:

1. Me Time

Time dedicated just to you. Only you.

It’s at the top of this list because it’s vital that you have time to recharge your batteries and do what feels good for you.

I use my “Me Time” to go paddling, sit down with a book, walk along the beach or chill out with Netflix.  I schedule these time blocks into my day.

“Me Time” can also mean a short break away for a few days when I switch everything off to simply refresh, reframe and relax.

2. Business development time

This is the time that you spend on developing your business.

You need to be spending time daily on business development because it is a way of ‘feeding your funnel’ and ensuring you have ongoing connections. Don’t just do this when you are searching for new business.

Remember that people like doing business with those they know,  like and trust. So maintaining and developing relationships is essential to your ongoing business success.

For Dragon Sisters, our business development time includes catching up with former clients, spending time on social media interacting with other business pages, being a guest speaker, writing a blog post, newsletter, doing some phone catch-ups or investigating a business tool.

3.Work time

Just like it says, it’s all about getting your core business done – it’s about working IN the business.

It looks different for everyone. Some may have regular office hours, others may have flexibility. But whatever the case, your working time needs to be blocked out and you need to be sticking to a schedule.

If you’re a mechanic it means working on the cars, for a writer it’s the time you spend writing, as a coach it means the time you spend coaching or working on material, a B&B means this is the time you’re dealing with guests and making sure your premises are in tip-top condition.

4. Family Time

It is absolutely essential to be slotting in family time. What your personal blocks look like will very much depend on your circumstances.

My children are adults, so family time for me means;  a girls night with my daughter once a week, time visiting my elderly parents every couple of days when I am on Bribie Island; dinner with my kids each night if we are all in the same house.

It also means running my 16-year-old niece to basketball if I happen to be on Bribie. The driving time is a valuable bonding time. I listen as she chatters away about whatever is happening in her life/on her mind.

Family time can take many forms, but the key ingredient is being present it the moment and putting work aside.

The rest of the time is flexible – according to your personal circumstances.

It’s not easy

Yes, it can be a struggle to get the time blocks happening.

I’ve been there.

As a result of my personal experience I also know that unless you get this happening, you will continue to struggle to achieve your goals.

This is where having someone on your side who can keep you accountable is invaluable.

Keeping on track

By disciplining you will have no problem keeping on track simply by using simple techniques like lists, journals and prioritising.

If you are finding it’s a struggle you are not alone. There are different types of goal setters and goal getters.

Now here’s the thing – the 100-day goal method works for everyone. That’s right. It really does work.  Why? It works because it is finite.

Click here for a tip sheet on choosing the right coach or consultant

Talking to a supportive manager, finding a business coach, or being part of an accountability circle are some of the best ways for developing the key skills to move you along the path to keeping yourself and your business on track.

Fly like a dragon!

Michelle

 

 

 

5 Simple Tips to Improve Your Writing

Do you love to write?

If you do, then you’re just like me!

If you don’t…. you’re not alone.

Whichever category you fall into, these 5 simple tips will help.

Before you take to writing that next piece of yours, whether it be a blog post or a business report, here are some quick tips to help you shine.

1) The Daily Habit

Get in the habit of writing each and every day; start a journal or a diary, write to a pen pal, just get yourself in the habit of writing.

It might seem like a lot of work but it isn’t.

*A really good way to practise this is to write 2 pages in a notebook each morning. Even though I am a writer,  I’ve just started utilising this tip that I learnt from a LinkedIn post and it is working wonders for me.

If you’re in business, chances are you’re already writing every day. You might not think of it as writing, but no doubt you send off countless emails each day?

2) Broadening your vocabulary

Get a word calendar or download an app on your phone like Dictionary.com.

Putting new words into your vocabulary is a great way to make your writing more powerful.

Often, when expanding your vocabulary you’ll also improve your knowledge on spelling and the correct use of words already in your vocabulary.

*I personally love learning new words and use them often to improve my personal writing.

3) Keep using those tough words.

Everyone has words they struggle to spell.  Don’t let that stop you.

I recently found a recipe book and I’d written one of the simplest words wrong.

I was mortified, but you know what? That’s just proof of how reliant we’re getting on the computer spell checking for us.

If you struggle with certain words keep pushing yourself to use them. Eventually, you’ll spell them so often that you’ll learn to spell them correctly.

*Whenever I misspell something on my computer before looking for the correct spelling I go back and try to spell it again. Nine times out of ten I’ll spell it right on the second try.

4) Don’t always listen to the computer

Microsoft Word is great, don’t get me wrong.

I’m always looking out for those red and green squiggly lines, but it isn’t always right.

Sometimes computers don’t understand the context of how a particular sentence should work, so it’ll underline the whole thing with a green line. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the sentence.

Before taking on board the computer’s recommended changes always give it a second or third read over.

See if it flows.

If it flows and you don’t detect anything wrong there probably isn’t an issue.

Also, bear in mind that not every word is registered in the Microsoft Word dictionary. If a word is really old or comes from another language Word will just keep on telling you it’s spelt wrong, even when it isn’t.

5) Write it ALL down first.

I used to always edit as I went, so if I misspelt a word I would immediately change it and if a sentence didn’t flow I’d spend ages re-writing it.

However, that isn’t the most efficient way to write and edit.

The most efficient process is to write everything out and then do a re-read for editing.

Trust me it saves time.

A helping hand

If you need a helping hand with any aspects of writing or editing…

Simple emails, sales funnels, website content reviews through to book manuscripts, blogs and ghost writing are all in a days work for us at Dragon Sisters.

Need some help…..reach out to us.

To your success,

Sasha

Sasha Hanton – a graduate of Bond University with a Bachelor in Journalism. Sasha possesses high caliber skills across a wide genre of writing, editing and multi-media content creation. Sasha’s achievements include the Sally A White Award for Investigative Journalism 2013.

 

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?


When no one likes selling, but we all want sales

Happy New Year!

A brand new year is always so exciting, isn’t it? It definitely is, if you, like us at Dragon Sisters, are a small to medium business or an entrepreneur. We are the lucky ones because we get to do what we love, and love what we do!

For most of us, this means we haven’t dragged our sorry-for-ourselves self into an office full of similarly sorry souls, all wondering how the holidays went by so fast, that we could be forgiven for thinking we’re in the realm of a cruel Doctor Who Tardis prank.

Hey presto! Here we are back at our desk, with our 2016 stacked in-tray still in front of us, an email in-box that seems to have some sort of cell-splitting capability (how else can you explain emails that seem to multiply the moment you turn your back on that darned computer) and a boss behind us cracking the whip. Perhaps in the nicest possible way, but hey, a whip’s a whip, designed to whip up our enthusiasm and productivity, which, after a few weeks kicking back guzzling egg nog and other festive treats, can be a bit of a rude shock to the system. Unless, you’re lucky enough to be one of us!

So, here we are, we intrepid entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and SME owners, jumping into 2017 at the warp speed of the Starship Enterprise. Beyond excited to be launching our new dreams, schemes and all things fantastic.

2017 is going to be our best year ever, right? Not least because we are fully committed, in the immortal words of Captain Kirk, to make it so.

Whether you’re a widget designer, a creative consultant, a reiki practitioner, a pooch pampering professional, or a funeral director, you and I are in exactly the same business – we are in business to sell our super service or stupendous stuff.

No matter how brilliantly shiny our (new or existing) product or service is, it’s not going to sell itself.

We need to sell it! And a lot of it!! Which means, all the time!!!

This is the part where I lose a lot of you, dear fellow Intrepid, because once we start talking sales and selling, many often cringe, fidget and generally look about as comfortable as a duck during shooting season. Most of us will do anything to dodge the sales bullet.

Not many of us enjoy being sold to. Fewer still of us enjoy doing the selling.

That’s because we view selling as an unwelcome imposition. It’s intrusive. It interrupts us when we are busy and we are always busy, especially our solopreneurs.

Half the time people are trying to sell us stuff that we really don’t have any interest in. Thanks, but no thanks! We hang up, log off, switch off.

When it comes to selling our own service or product, we definitely don’t want to get the same treatment. We don’t want to be a pain in the posterior either. We’re nice people. We don’t want to impose upon or interrupt anyone, the way we hate it when that happens to us.

That being the case, how are we going to make it so in terms of making this year a storming sales success? Because like it or lump it – 2017 is not going to be great shakes if we don’t get our revenue rocking.

The good news is that, there are lots of routes to sales: on-line, off-line, in person and they all work.

Not only that, but they all work the same way. And it doesn’t have to be painful!

Even the most shy, least people-person amongst us, can get the results they need and want.

Just choose the medium which works best for you and for your business and get Smarketing.

What’s Smarketing? It’s how you …

CONNECT. CONVERT. SELL!

If this is something you have struggled with, then our Smarketing Chart explains how you can make Smarketing work for you.

It’s pretty self-explanatory, but if you need any help, drop us an email.

We’ll be blogging regularly to help you out with more ways to connect, convert and sell your way into a sensational 2017.

Here’s to your success!

With Warm Wishes

Yvonne

P.S. If you haven’t checked out our new website yet, there’s some good free stuff on there for you to help yourself to.

Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.