business improvement

Wanted to know more about it but were afraid to ask? In 2013, Polycom – a major provider of equipment used for video conferencing – conducted a survey into who was using the technology, what they found helpful and unhelpful and who expected to use it in the future.
For the technically minded, it is an interesting read and can be found here
For those who want a quick summary, we have prepared a short animated infographic here..

Maybe the most valuable professional development activity in my government career was a leadership course. The main focus were Communication and motivation. Communication deserves a whole post to itself, so let’s focus today on a single sentence that can change everything.

What would it look like if I could? If you think something can’t be done , allow your mind to imagine and explore what it would be like if you did do it. Explore in detail. For example , if it is a marketing problem, define what it would mean to succeed like ” I want 10 people at my seminar”. This then translates to defining what the people are like, what media they consume and what your likely conversion rate is. You then know how many people you need to reach and likely ways to it. You might find a way. If you knw what the solution is and how it works, it is often easier to get there. Discuss and brainstorm it with trusted friends. See how the person who does this is likely to be ahead of the one who just complains not enough people are coming…
Interestingly writing this post helped me to apply it in my own business. When I first tried to market events, I quickly got overwhelm and felt a bit lost. But when I reasoned through it and tried to achieve the minimum number by word of mouth, I had a much more successful and fun experience.

Pedestrian crossing , Caloundra, near Bulcock beach
Imagine you were standing on this road, planning a fishing trip by boat. You would first decide if you wanted to skipper the boat yourself, or if you wanted to go on a charter cruise. If a Cruise, you would look at tourist sites on the web to determine who was a trustworthy operator and maybe call them. You would know what questions to ask and maybe compare prices between the operators. You would make sure you could visit the places you want to visit. If you are doing it yourself, you would either join forces with a mate or purchase or hire a boat. You would make sure you had all the required safety and communication equipment. You would load fishing rods and food and drink. Only then would you be ready to go fishing.

Building a web site is very like planning a trip on the Sea of Technology.
Even if you don’t want to be the skipper, you need to plan and make sure you are safe and end up where you want to go. Let’s briefly look at the steps.
1) Decide how much you want to do yourself
Will you write and update the content? Will you look after changes to the site?
Are you going to build the entire site?
2) Work out how you want it to look. Draw diagrams and sketches if you want. Think about your logo and colour scheme and make sure they are consistent on everything you do.
3) Write it down. Describe everything you want as clearly and simply as you can.
4) Select your implementation partners. Make sure you have a fair payment plan. It is standard practice to pay a deposit and then the balance on completion. For a large project, multiple progress payments may be an option.
We will discuss what to look for in a web designer in a later post.
5) Build or have the site built
6) Test it carefully to see that it meets all the requirements in steps 2 and 3.
7) You have reached your destination, a new web site for your business.

office and studio

Show Pony office and studio

When I worked in Queensland Transport, I used to walk home from the bus along Park Avenue at Clayfield. There was a lovely pony grazing beside the creek but after the Hendra virus scare he disappeared and I feared something bad had happened. Anyway I grew up and started a business. Recently Hannah from Show Pony was showing me around a gorgeous meeting venue at Clayfield and told me she was friends with the Kalinga pony’s owner and he’s well and just moved out to the country.

Why was I looking at a venue? Because I have joined the Podpora Network and want to establish Pods in inner northern Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast. Podpora is a new concept in business support, where a small group of business owners meet regularly to have fun, celebrate success, brainstorm and learn. I strongly believe in the concept. It has helped me to see past blockages and led me to clarity and new ways of connecting with my target audience. I’ve seen it make a huge difference to fellow members too. For example, one person gained the confidence to start teaching the workshops she had long dreamed of conducting.

Who remembers the TV series “A Town Like Alice ” or the movie or the book? I loved all author Neville Shute’s work as a teen and still do. At that age, I was pulled in by the skillful writing, gentle romance and thrilling survival story. I still appreciate these things but as an adult and a small business person, I can now fully appreciate the community building aspects of the story. You see, rather than complain about her new husband’s primative town, the female lead Jean set about improving it. One of the main tools she used was establishing sustainable businesses to employ locals and provide for their unmet needs.

Interestingly, it’s a theme Neville Shute comes back to in another novel “Ruined City”. This time the main character uses his skills as a financier and some rather risky means to reopen a shipyard closed during the Great Depression in the UK. There is a strong theme of how job creation reanimated a dying town.

Without resorting to questionable dealings, I am certain there are now things I can do to support and develop local business. I plan to start on the Sunshine Coast and in Brisbane but hope that what I learn and develop can be applied in truely remote and regional areas.

Screenshot_2015-03-17-12-55-23

This is an excellent read for anyone who is in business, thinking of going into business or in a sales role. Highly recommended.

This is a modern day fable about networking and developing your business. Oscar is a wise ancient soul who has been granted immunity from aging in return for devoting himself to mentoring others and who may or may not be real.

Tyler is a struggling sales rep who wants to go into a network marketing business. What happens when the two get together contains lessons for us all.
Its packed with important lessons on networking. Some of the key ones for me :

1) Networking is like gardening, not like hunting. Do it in service of others, not to sell. Sales will follow when you develop the right connections. Help others connect.
2) Look for introductions. Work out your golden egg (ideal client), goose (where they hang out) , granny goose ( association or group where your geese belong)
3) Look for opportunities to make an event better. Help those who are struggling or alone
4) Make notes and follow up on meetings. Thank people with a card.

This book is definitely worth a read..and if you do, I would love to know what you think and what you found most helpful.
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Storm building

The summer storm season is almost over in the South East of Queensland. However, storms have long been used in writing as a metaphor for describing any turbulent or troubled time. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the nature of running a small business. One person can feel they have to do everything. You can feel alone. We have talked many times about how to prepare for literal storms. Now how about the metaphorical ones. It is worth planning to cope with these too!
What storms are you facing? What have you done to prepare and cope?
Who will stand by you in any storms you encounter?

Stormy or fair, you feel isloted as a small business person? Do you wish there was a tribe or community of likeminded people with whom you could discuss, learn, brainstorm and share?
Well there is! I will be blogging more about the Podpora concept which I have recently discovered and which meets my needs for this type of community.

daveswordofwisdom

Can you think of any strange alliances in nature? Have you lived with a loyal dog?
Many creatures can only exist as part of a social structure and humans are not very different. We belong to families, churches, clubs or gyms.
Sometimes when we go into business for ourselves, we find it hard to replace the social contact with our workmates that we took for granted.
We might find support from an unlikely source. My advice to you is, try attending a few groups and join the ones that feel right to you.
My personal favourite is Podpora and as I mentioned in a previous post, I’m bringing this to the Sunshine Coast shortly. Podpora is a unique support group for entrepreneurs where group mentors solve problems, celebrate successes and mentor each other. I’ve seen real, timely results achieved in a Brisbane group and the group has lead and inspired me to some of my successes already. If you would like to find out more, see
On a lighter note, here are some unlikely but cute animal friends to brighten your day.

Being alone is not the same as being a solo business owner. I am an extravert and almost hesitated to start a business because I didn’t think I could stand the isolation of going out on my own, working from home or not. However, I have joined some wonderful groups, made heaps of new friends and am less isolated than ever. The moral of the story address your concerns and don’t let them stop you. Second moral, networking isn’t all about your next sale. Its about building a support network for each other.

It is important to make sure networking, masterminding and business support groups you join are the right ones FOR YOU and deliver value for money FOR YOU.
There are many groups around and they will suit different businesses and different owners. I recommend you try a few and find one or more that “click ” for you.
My favourite is Podpora http://podporanetwork.com/
I have joined this group in Brisbane and am so excited about it that I plan to become a facilitator and bring it to the Sunshine Coast as well.

smart phone
There comes a time when the simple solutions you used as a start up on your kitchen table or in your garage no longer provide what you need. Growth can cause headaches but “growing pains” can be reduced by planning for expansion from the beginning.
Here are the top four signs you may need to reexamine your business technology.

1. Running out of space
It may be your cloud storage or external hard drive or it may be the drive in a device but if storage is tight, it might be time to reexamine your backup procedures and devices. This is something that should be reviewed often as it is so important in any case. Think of it as similar to checking your smoke alarm.
2. Limited capabilities of free software
If the limits of a package like Skype that you used before you went into business are “bugging” you, it is time to dig deeper into your software needs. Time to upgrade it? Or does something else meet your new needs better? Some business software has.multi user or more secure features. Are you ready to benefit from these?
3 Unhappy accountant or overwhelming paperwork

Are you spending ages dealing with invoices and handing your accountants a shoebox of receipts that has them pullling their hair out or charging like roaring bulls? Maybe it is time to move to a cloud based accounting solution or hire a bookkeeper or both.
4. Tired of the Compromises Imposed by Consumer Grade Hardware
Computer or laptop suffering “out of warrenty syndrome ” and not lasting as long as you expect ? Have to send a device away interstate or wait for parts if something goes wrong. If you have enough devices that you can do without for a time, that’s ok. Bear in mind though, if you are running a business, you need business grade technology, this means computers that are build from quality components and a company which provides reliable and timely support should something go wrong.
A business can reasonably expect next business day, on site support for computers. This will cost more than the cheap PC or laptop you buy for the kids at a local store but think of the costs of jot having support should you need it. Would you still be able to continue doing business?

We have experienced two of these, chosen to sidestep one and are watching for signs of the remaining one. How about you?
Can you think of any other signs you need to review your business technology? Do you need help doing so? If so, contact us below for a chat.

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