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The following is a guest blog by Trisha Mentzel who owns B2B Event Management

Today is International Women’s Day. I suppose it is very telling of our time that we should have the need for a day to mark women’s achievements and where they are not treated in the same way as men.

It is such a shame that equality is not a given to women all over the world or that they should have to be singled out.

I have most of my life taken for granted that I will be treated with courtesy and be treated as an equal.

I was very lucky growing up as my parents treated my brother and I the same and even now my father is very fair in making sure that we are given parity.

With this upbringing I went out into the word believing the same principles in treating other people whatever gender, race or class the same way how I would like to be treated.

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I know even in our civilised Great Britain this still does not always work and the unfortunate behaviour of some people who think they have power to lord it over others and take advantage of them and treat them in a shameful way.

I admire and I take my hat off to all the women who have achieved so much in their lives, work, time and giving to not only better the cause of women but also to those less fortunate.

Whatever the role of women whether a mother going out to work as well as looking after a family, or the CEO of a large corporation you do a marvellous job of multi-tasking and contributing to society.

May you continue to champion the cause.

Trisha Mentzel is an experienced International Marketing and Event Manager who runs B2B Event Management. She specialises in cross-functional marketing, event planning and delivering large corporate conferences, exhibitions, seminars, product launches, road shows and meetings around Europe. Her clients include the British Council and businesses based in the Home Counties and London.

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achieve new goalsWouldn’t you just love to set new business goals knowing that you will succeed easily?

But all too often our new goals fall by the wayside at the first hurdle. Failing to achieve goals at the beginning of the year is very common and can be the result of trying to pack too many new goals into an already jam-packed agenda.

There may be an expectation that simply working smarter (or being more productive) will help you to do and achieve much more in the little time you have.

What’s wrong with working smarter?

The secret is usually not ‘working smart’, but working smart on the right things.

Applying Pareto’s Principle, which is also known as the 80/20 Rule,  this means focussing 80 percent of our time and energy on the 20 percent of the work that really matters.

Applying this rule is easier when you know what you spend your time on, and can let go of anything that doesn’t contribute to your overall effectiveness.

What do you need to stop doing?

It is strange how we sometimes continue to do something that may not actually help us.

How often do you get distracted by the phone or the internet and social media sites?

Or attend the wrong networking events for the wrong reasons?

Or plan to start work early knowing that’s when you’re most productive but somehow struggle to get out of bed?

Most of us will be unproductive at some point – we are human after all.  For example, in my early days in business, I frequently didn’t plan or prioritise my daily tasks, which led to a fair amount of fire fighting, and sometimes even missing deadlines.

In the last couple of years I have ditched all those interesting but somehow ‘unnecessary’ projects!

I’m a bit of an innovator and my passion for new ideas can make me want to get involved in everything interesting that comes my way. Then before I know it –  ignoring my gut instinct – I feel resentful when I ran out of time for the activities that really matter.

Not saying YES to all these tempting new projects felt uncomfortable to say the least. I thought I might get bored. But the opposite happened to me.

Ditching unproductive tasks as well as bad habits and behaviours can be very satisfying as you are able to give even more quality time to what really matters. And the rewards may surprise you!

 

What will you say NO to?

This year, why not say ‘No’ more often and allow yourself more time to do what you know will make an impact in your business?

Maybe you want to have more personal time for yourself as well, something you value very highly?

If you are ready to say NO to something, then two techniques can really help you:

  1. Ask yourself, ‘What’s really in it for me?’  Answering this question will help you to discover whether what you are planning to do (or not) has any really benefits for you and your business.
  2. Reward yourself every time you manage to ditch an unproductive activity and do something more productive or meaningful instead. Without a suitable reward it is unlikely you will feel motivated enough to create a new habit. And you will probably go back to your old habits very quickly. Rewarding yourself is, therefore, very important.

So, what business activities, temptations, habits or behaviours will you say NO to this year?

Ute2013-150x150About the author: Ute Wieczorek-King helps female midlife entrepreneurs to be visible, effective and profitable in business. Sign up to her monthly newsletter on the Success Network Website to receive a free ebook that shows you how to make a living from your passion.

 

Great bloggers are not awesome on Day 1

Have you started a blog to help you promote your small business? Or are you a personal blogger who’d love to turn her blog into a commercial venture?

Many people have great hopes for their blog but in reality they struggle to keep it going.

Whatever the reasons, as Darren Rose said “99% of great bloggers are not awesome on day 1. Their awesomeness is the accumulation of the value they create over time.”

It’s so true… you’re not ‘awesome’ from day 1 and to achieve results can take some time. You don’t just have to ‘create value’, you also have to be able to promote yourself and your blog effectively.

Many women (especially those who are older and a little shy) don’t know how to do that. Or how to attract the right readers in an authentic way that feels comfortable.

If that’s you, please let us inspire you via Attract Readers™ – it’s where Marketer Jean Wolfe, Fairy Blogmother Alice Elliott and I (Ute Wieczorek-King) help female bloggers to promote themselves and their blog better.

Here is a just small selection of our blog posts:

How a blog can help the ‘know like and trust’ factor

Four reasons why consistency is important in blogging

How to explain confidently to others why you blog

10 reasons why writing lists posts is good for your blog

How not to let lack of motivation stop your blogging

We’ve also written about why you don’t need to be pushy or worry about SEO,  whether you need images, how to make blogging easier, and much more!

And if you like our posts you may also like our complimentary download “Four Key Mistakes Bloggers Make Who Fail To Attract Readers”

Mistakes bloggers make

Come on over and let us know what you think!

www.attractreaders.com

Autumn is here; the weather is changing and the summer holidays are long forgotten. Many solo business owners are frantically busy working towards some strong end-of-year results.

Most business owners would prefer to wait for a quieter time at the end of the year before thinking about the next phase in their business.

The perils of being busy working ‘in’ the business

The main problem with being busy is that it can give you tunnel vision.  You just look at what you need to do and what’s most urgent, essentially losing your peripheral vision.

When you’re busy like this you often can’t be sure that what you’re just working on will lead to the best possible results. That’s because busy-ness can skim over any small inefficiencies or gaps in your thinking that can lead to a big waste of money over time.

IMG_5891Let’s imagine a major lucrative project was offered to you unexpectedly. It’s your dream project and means working with your ideal client.

If you’re already busy, would you have capacity and the necessary time to manage it? And be able to keep your other customers happy at the same time?

Most solopreneurs I meet don’t like to think ahead that way, telling theselves they’ll cross that bridge when it actually happens.

However, I would argue that unless you are prepared and ready to receive it, growth may never happen. Opportunities may pass you by because you are too busy to ‘see’ them or be able to gauge their future potential.

And if growth happens when you’re not prepared, having to think on your feet may just lead to overwhelm and not knowing what to focus on first.

So being frantically busy may actually be an important warning sign!

Change your focus to encourage new growth

So let’s why not try to create some space and time for a little bit of thinking. Here are a few questions for you to reflect on:

  • What marketing or business building activity has proven to be ineffective this year? Think about ways to phase it out or let it go altogether. There is no need to wait until the end of the year to do so.
  • What project or joint venture hasn’t worked out the way you hoped it would? It may be time to rethink or drop it. Otherwise you could simply be wasting lots of unnecessary time and money.
  • Where or when are you not making the most of your time (or money)? Are you losing motivation or interest in an aspect of your business, a niche you’re working in? Are you being distracted by too many tempting services that over-promise and under-deliver? Again, why not end the inefficiencies?
  • What do you dislike doing altogether? Can you ditch or delegate it and replace it with more of what you like and are really good at?

This is a great time to rethink your strategy and take the appropriate action. The very action that makes space for growth is often the one that lays strong foundations for the future.

What are you waiting for?

PS. If you’re serious about wanting to make changes that will drive your business forward and lead to better results, please ask me about my once-a-year VIP 30-day Mentoring Programme.

Ute2013-150x150About the author: Ute Wieczorek-King helps female midlife entrepreneurs to be visible, effective and profitable in business. Sign up to her monthly newsletter on the Success Network Website to receive a free ebook that shows you how to make a living from your passion.

One of the biggest concerns most people seem to have when becoming their own boss is how to manage social isolation. Suddenly there are no more chats in the office kitchen, over the water cooler, or in the canteen.

You probably still meet up with friends and ex-colleagues, but the level of contact may not be able to replace the kind of work contact you were used to.

Of course, being a home based business owner has huge advantages. You have the freedom to start and finish your work when it suits you, and you are often more productive too.

But it can also be hard to take a break when you’re constantly feeling under pressure to get all your work done. After all there is only you to do it!

This pressure can make it difficult for women to create a balanced work routine that includes regular opportunities to interact with other people.

Some women have told me that during their busiest times, days and weeks would go by and the only contact they have it with their clients.

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Image by Ute Wieczorek-King

There is really no need to feel guilty about taking regular breaks from your work to connect with people. After all, time spent with the right people will make you feel energised and may even give you new ideas and a different perspective too.

Networking can be social too

A great option is to visit some local networking groups where you can meet other women in the same boat and exchange experiences. It may take a little courage, especially if you’ve never been to a networking event before and don’t know what to expect. But overcoming your fears and making the effort will pay off.

I’ve met a number of women who started to network from the time they considered setting up on their own (so way before their business was up and running). This meant they already had an existing network once they were ready to take on clients and isolation never became an issue!

Networking groups can be quite social too which can be great for women who run an online business. As you may not need to depend on local business you could always focus on making new friends.

What else can you do?

How about taking your work to a coffee shop once a week? Or joining in with a co-working initiative, that allows you to work alongside others for a day or so every month? There are also ‘tweet-ups’, where local twitter users get together to share experiences.

Online groups can also be very supportive. For example, I belong to different groups on Facebook where I connect regularly with people who have similar interests.

Using social media in this way can remove some sense of isolation, but as it will not replace valuable face-to-face contact, it is worth making sure you have a good mix between the two.

This is especially important as being connected to people you know well, and can meet up with, will also help you manage the motivational dips that many home workers experience.

Lack of motivation is a common symptom of isolation and can also affect productivity levels, confidence and self-esteem.

But even when not connecting with others, going for a daily walk, shop, or visit to the gym, means you are doing something to break your routine away from your own four walls.

Not feeling isolated will make you more fired-up and productive in the long run — a great incentive don’t you think?!

Ute2013-150x150Ute is an experienced business start-up and growth mentors who helps women to take their small business from good to great.  

To receive Ute’s free ‘Passion to Profit’ ebook please visit the Success Network website. 

Three years ago I compiled a blog called “How not to fail in business”, with useful tips from some of my Inner Circle members how to survive the recession as a solopreneur.

During those tough years most of us with established businesses had to adjust our approach to getting and keeping clients. You just couldn’t take anything for granted.

And it seems you still can’t three years on! That’s despite the fact that the economy appears to be improving.

But spending is not yet back to pre-recession times and many business owners are still feeling a little cautious. Even consumers must be wary as the seasonal sales show – here in the UK they seem to be starting earlier every year!

So whether you run an established solo-business or a new start-up, you probably want to know the best ways to win and keep new customers … and naturally keep your existing ones too.

Here are five useful strategies

  • Avoid undercutting your competitition

Firstly, it’s worth remembering that whatever you offer, your customers are bound to be able to find cheaper suppliers.

Please don’t ever let that put you under pressure to reduce your fees! Be confident, stick to your pricing and focus on making sure you really know and understand your customers and their needs.

That way you can be sure to deliver something that’s 100% relevant to them and they will value that!

  • Research what else clients might need

Do this at least once every year and set some time aside to think about all the options. The summer period (or the end of a year) can be a perfect time to do your research.

20130405-124223.jpgWhen your service is always fresh, innovative and up to date, you make your offering potentially more desirable than your competitors’ and it will be highly relevant too – whatever the state of the economy. (Being innovative has worked well for me for over 20 years!)

  • Try different ways to grow your business

Two great ways to get more work and grow your business are to either identify new offerings for current clients or to sell more of your current offerings to a new target audience.

This can be especially worthwhile when potential customers in your new market are willing to pay appropriate or higher fees than customers you currently sell to.

  • Care about your customers … and care some more

Every week I hear stories of business owners who have lost business. Sadly they often realise too late that they should have communicated better and more regularly with their customers.

The solopreneur businesses I see flourishing are the ones who do that really well. They talk to their customers and listen attentively too.

So try to fully understand what your existing customers really want, then go the extra mile in order to provide added benefits and greater value.

Whether the value is in how you deliver or how you maintain the customer relationship after delivery, it can help to differentiate you from the competition. And it may then also lead to new referrals and new business. (There are several added bonuses here!)

  • Make the payment process really easy

This is such an easy but often over-looked way to add value. For example, you could break big projects into manageable and affordable chunks (where applicable), and work with stage payments – a method often used by web designers.

Several of my solopreneur clients have adopted this approach, much to their customers’ delight!

Offering different payment options can be useful too – for example, don’t refuse cheques, credit card or PayPal payments because they are costly or inconvenient for you.

By understanding YOUR customers’ preferred choice of payment you will make getting paid much easier which may also help with your cash flow.

So, I’ve shared with you five important strategies to help your solo-business win and keep customers and … ultimately… thrive!

What are yours? Why not share your ideas in the comments below?

Ute2013-150x150About the author: Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced mentor and blogger who helps passionate midlife women to stay focused, work smarter and stand out from the crowd. If you’d like to take your small venture from good to great, why not download Ute’s free “Passion to Profit” ebook.

PS. The above is an updated version of a post first published here in 2013.

In recent years we have seen an explosive rise in social media use by freelancers and micro-businesses in the service industry. It seems that many small business owners are now casting their net wider and further afield in an attempt to make new connections and, thus, attract new business opportunities.

It probably goes without saying that to win new business you need to be known and trusted, and be ‘seen’ regularly in different places.

However with the lure of so many online opportunities, I think many people don’t realise that looking closer to home can actually be much easier, quicker and potentially more rewarding too!

People often forget about their existing network, both virtual and real, especially when it hasn’t yet delivered new business.

The thing is, the people you know may already trust you — a real bonus when you would dearly love to receive more leads, referrals and new business. But sometimes we expect contacts to provide us with leads, when they are not quite ready to do so.

Perhaps our relationships aren’t quite as strong as we think they are. Or they are too busy and you are not the first person they think of when a business opportunity presents itself.

Here is what you can do. Start by asking yourself some important questions:

  • How can I help my existing contacts to get to know me better as a person as well as the ‘expert’ in my field?
  • Do I share my knowledge and expertise fairly regularly and am I generous enough?
  • Do I really understand their needs and desires so I can help them accordingly? How can I get to know them better?

Enhancing existing relationships can be quite simple:

  • IMG_0971Arrange regular informal 1-to-1 meetings over a coffee or lunch.  You’ll find out about your contacts’ latest developments and how you can add value to their business
  • Always follow up after each meeting — it will help them to remember you!
  • Stay in touch by forwarding articles or blog posts (not just your own!) that they will find useful
  • Invite them to events that you think they’ll be interested in
  • Refer them when you know that they would benefit from meeting one of your other contacts

Keeping in touch with people you already know on a regular basis (without selling to them) really does pay off!

If, reading this, you think that all this may be too time-consuming for you, then my guess is you haven’t yet enlisted the help of online social networks for networking purposes.

If you treat social networking as your personal assistant and use it to stay in touch with your existing network, you simply can’t go wrong!

  • Status updates help you to give people bite-sized updates on what you’re up to
  • Wall posts or brief private messages on sites such as Facebook Messenger, Twitter or Linked-In allow you to communicate much quicker and more efficiently than via email (and there is no danger of your message disappearing in someone’s junk mail folder either!)
  • A blog or newsletter may be less personal but they will remind your contacts of your expertise and your ability to help them

Building strong relationships, both offline and online, always takes time but ultimately, it is generally much harder and more time-consuming to start relationships from scratch than to re-connect with people who already know you.

P.S. Why not add to the above tips or share your own experiences by commenting below?

Ute2013-150x150

About the author: Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced business coach, mentor and blogger who helps passionate midlife women to stay focused, work smarter and stand out from the crowd.

If you’d like to take your small venture from good to great, why not download Ute’s free “Passion to Profit” ebook.

Please note, the above article is based on an older version first published here in October 2010. 

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