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Archive for the ‘General Business’ Category

HOW TO IDENTIFY AND OVERCOME SKILLS GAPS!

In life and in our careers we come across skills that we are good at some we are even great at and then their are those skills that we really struggle with. This could be communication, emotional intelligence, building rapport or just general communication skills and the worst one which has been shown to be one of the most feared skill of all is Public Speaking.

At times we have to get better at a skill because it holds us back from pursuing our dreams or its important to develop interpersonal relationships as we care for someone and if we don’t connect, we may miss out on something special. To go for that dream job we may need to be more confident, or learn how to articulate our self better. No matter what the gap is you can always find a way to build that skill just like you build a muscle.

Identify

swot_img2SWOT Analysis

Doing a SWOT Analysis can help identify our Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Once we identify things we are not so good at we can focus on what we need to do to develop this weakness and use our strengths to build on our weakness’s where possible.  If you have never done a SWOT Analysis before you could ask someone that will help you.
NOTE: This person should know you reasonably well and be willing to be honest and constructive, not critical.
Follow the steps below to discover more about yourself and have fun.
Step 1. Agree to be honest with yourself. This is not to make you feel bad or inadequate, this is to identify where you need to focus to obtain the skill or skills you want to be better at.
Step 2. Get a sheet of paper and divide one page into 4 sections, label each section as shown in the image.
Step 3. Start with your Strengths and write as many as you can, communication, organisational skills, time management, dealing with people, team building, things like this. if you have trouble thinking of any then start with what makes you happy.
Step 4. Then go to your weaknesses and list those, this could be, saying no, poor communication, always being late. keep in mind a strength and threat could be the same. An organised person gets more tasks given to them as they get the job done, this could lead to a weakness of taking on too much.
Step 5. Look at your Strengths and Weaknesses and list the threats. This can come from Weaknesses and can also come from Strengths, again if you are supportive and always there for friends this can be a Weakness as you could be called upon and not say no, therefore not putting your needs first.
Step 6. Look at all sections that have been completed and look where their may be some opportunities. If you never say no in fear of reaction of disappointing, you may need to learn to become assertive, if you have trouble communicating a communications course may be helpful. These are opportunities to address weaknesses and reduce threats.         
Here is an example of identifying a weakness and seeing the threat that is created.
A weakness may be you avoid conflict as you don’t know how to deal with it and if you say something you may upset someone. This can happen in personal environments and work environments.
The Threat could be this means you never ask for what you want as this may lead to disappointment of fear of upsetting someone or not pleasing them, so you feel disappointed and unhappy about not having things or not going places you desire. Holding back can lead to unhappiness and feelings of being unfulfilled in many aspects of life. Dealing with conflict can be done in a very positive way so that everyone is happy or at least satisfied and no one is missing out.

What is holding you back

Sometimes we hold ourselves back from doing what we truly desire mostly because of fear, What will they think, what if I fail, what if I look silly, what if i disappoint? sometimes we just don’t know where to start. The good news is you can start here, next is the library, or an audio program, career advice or a short course. Their are many ways to get started but you need to have a clear plan of what you would like to do, so fist identify what holds you back. Sometimes its excuses I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, in most cases its fear. Look at my acronym for fear and ask yourself if its real. In most cases its not but even if it is real you have to decide if you would like it to be different. Simply learning a better way to communicate can have a significant impact on everything that you do.
False
Evidence
Appearing
Real

Overcome

Make a Plan

Part of making a plan is finding the people or the course or even the resources that can assist in the plan being able to come to life. Resources can be people or things such as books and audio programs a short course or even setting a goal. What ever you want, you must plan and take action on that plan for things to be different. As you may have heard before “if you keep doing what you have always done you will keep getting what you have always got”

So make an action plan on what you are going to do today towards just one of your weaknesses and you will be on the road to better things today.

Example
Weakness – doing to many tasks and not getting the important tasks completed.
Threat – Deadlines not being met and tasks not being completed
Opportunity – Learn how to prioritise and not get distracted
Action Plan – Plan my day before it started and prioritise and allocate times to be completed
Outcome – A more efficient day, completed tasks, less Stress

We hope we have helped you fill in some of the Gaps.

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 Donna Moulds – Mantra Training & Development

Getting a good head start could be the difference between achieving your goals and not. The power in writing them down in indescribable and to say the least powerful.

I am writing this on the 1st January 2013

al-inspiring-quote-on-how-to-achieve-greatness Yes that’s correct on the first day of the new year I am writing a Blog on Goal setting, not because I don’t have a life but more importantly that I have a great   life and want it to be better. The quote that is to the right is so true and I think we often forget that we do have a choice in everything we do. When we take 100% responsibility for our choices we take responsibility for our failures and our successes.

I have already set my Goals for 2013 and am in the process of writing them down in detail and then writing my action steps to move me closer to these each day. Last year seemed to go so fast and before I and many others knew it Christmas was here. So I decided that I didn’t want the year to fly by without a plan for what I really and truly want for me, my family and my team at Mantra Training & Development in 2013.

So I thought this is no better time than to do another more detailed Blog on Goal setting. I had written one in the middle of last year and as I still believe very much in goals and action toward them I would expand even further.

I once heard Anthony Robbins say that if you are not growing you are dying, and I am still growing every day and will continue to do so in many ways. We can grow in all areas of our life, Financially, Spiritually, Relationships can grow and most importantly our knowledge can grow .

You may think you don’t set goals but in one way or another we all set goals, they can be a small goals of getting somewhere on time if you are often late. It could be to get a pay rise or promotion in your current career. We set bigger goals for fitness, and exercise or to give up smoking or drinking for a Month, year or for good. many people will have a New Years Resolution (Bad idea as they are often short lived)

I have been setting goals since I was very young; however I am not sure that I knew I was setting goals. I would decide I wanted something or to go somewhere and then I would find a way to do it. As I have looked back over many years of doing this and also being a keen observer of others, I have noticed a few key facts that are fairly consistent.

Why do we achieve some Goals and not others?

 Let me see if I can shed some light on what I think are some of the reasons for success and failure to reach our goals.

 If you fail to plan you plan to fail “Jim Rohn”

 TRY and moving away from goals opposed to moving toward goals!

 TRY – This word drives me crazy and is used so frequently when it is an excuse word. What I mean by that is, it lets you off the hook….. I will try to get there…..I will try to lose weight…….I will try to stop smoking…….I tried to call. Lets look at each one of these and break it down.

Someone asks you out and you say “I will try to get there” what they may have wanted to say is “I don’t want to go but if I say I will try and get there and don’t make it I know I tried

I will try and lose weight, really! How do you try, you either do lose weight by doing something differently, like walking round the block each day and eating smaller portions, or you don’t!

The last one is I tried to call…… What about, “I called and you didn’t answer” or “ I Did call and left a voicemail message”

You see I use this activity in my training…..I ask someone to try and pick up a chair, they pick it up and I say no I asked you to try, so they pretend its heavy and can’t lift it, again I say no now you didn’t pick up the chair. I often get looked at with frustration until it clicks…..You either pick up the chair or you don’t….NO TRYING! “Anthony Robbins”

 Moving Away from Goals V Moving Toward Goals

 If you don’t achieve your goals someone else will “Jim Rohn”

 What do I mean by moving away from goals?

 When you are moving away from something it is generally because you have a negative outcome where you are, so you want to move away from it (use Fear or Pain as a good example). Take a heart attack for example, you may need to lose weight change your diet and exercise, which you were not doing before, hence why you have had a heart attack. So when you get away from the risk you tend to go back to old habits.

What we should be doing consistently is setting toward Goals with positive outcomes, let me give you an example;

In August 2011 I set a goal to walk the Kokoda track and I was specific about a number of reasons for setting this goal. I understand this is a big one however the same concept applies t small goals as well.

Smart format applied

Specific – To walk the Kokoda Track in April 2012

Measurable – Researched the most reputable company to do the trek with, costed flights, trek gear and time frames that fitted in with my daughter being away on school holidays.

Achievable – A plan was required with a deadline and results focused to ensure I would be successful (it was truly achievable with a plan)

Relevant –   It was relevant in a number of ways both physically and emotionally and also one of my highest values is growth “I was definitely going to grow

Timely – I had a number of deadlines and it was the perfect time in my life to do this journey

Whilst a lot more in-depth planning and reasoning behind this goal, I am sure you can see the concept. Take the time to think of a small goal you want to achieve and use the SMART format to set the goal. Then set some bigger Goals and have a clear action plan to start moving you in the direction of achieving them.

Here are a few additional steps you can take to ensure you keep momentum.

  1. Write them down and stick it on your bathroom mirror so you see them every day
  2. Take 10 Minutes a day to so something toward planning or achieving these goals, as little as 10 minutes a day can work.
  3. Say them out loud, tell people about it so they can support you getting there.
  4. Get an accountability buddy to keep you on track
  5. Even if you fall off the horse so to speak don’t give up just get back on the horse.
  6. Make sure you reward yourself when you achieve the goal or get to a major milestone.

I look forward to hearing about your goals and if you need any help to set goals feel free to contact Mantra Training & Development and we can help you not only set the goals, we can help you create a plan to achieve your goals in 2013.

Have an amazing year and remember to enjoy the journey.

  Donna

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Jean McIntyre talks about how small business people can use YouTube to get their message out and attract attention to their website.

By Jean McIntyre ( Marketing Angels)

Last year I posted on 5 things small business owners can do over the slow period to boost their business.  One of those was to make a YouTube video.  This month I’d like to explore that a bit because it’s a lot of fun and can be a great tool for your business.

So here’s my ideas on what you could do on YouTube:

  1. Get someone you know to write a song about your business and how great it is, get your staff and some customers together to sing it and record it with a video camera.  Get some free online editing software and add your logo, credits and some key messages on the end.
  2. Record yourself working on your computer doing whatever you do (writing a training program, designing a logo, entering bookkeeping data, preparing a tax return).  Record a commentary over the top about the key steps in the process – of course with your branding attached.
  3. Identify 5 tips in your area of expertise and record a video of you with a whiteboard – going through the 5 tips and explaining them in detail.  Tip: if you are going to record yourself wear a nice suit or dress, do your hair and makeup so you look your best.
  4. Think of something you are expert at (let’s say it’s staff recruitment), write a script about it and hold (and film) a puppet show about it.  You can get your family or your staff to make some really interesting puppets and nice backdrops.

Those are the cheap ways to get on You Tube.  Of course if you have some resources to put into it you can get a short video professionally produced and put it up.

A warning about both options though,  people love to share videos – particularly of people doing interesting things.  But if your video is just a film version of your marketing material – trust me – people won’t view it or comment on it and certainly won’t email or re-post it for others to view.

The way to get it shared online is to make it intersting.  Videos that are funny, quirky, controversial or tug at the heart (or purse) strings will more easily get traction on YouTube.

So get to it.

Nothing to stop you from sitting in front of your webcam and giving it a go.  Don’t forget though to put a link to your website on your video so people can find you.  Also use the tools on YouTube to post it to Facebook, Twitter, your blog and any other social media sites you are involved with.

I’d be really pleased to see some links from readers to videos they’ve put on You Tube.

Jean Mc

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Helping Canberra small businesses to Get Smarter Marketing

By Jean McIntyre (Marketing Angels)

Jean Mc talks about the importance of supplementing advertising with other marketing tactics and how a referral plan can help you grow your business.

I’ve had a few chats this week with clients about advertising.  The comments are always the same:  “I’m spending megabucks on advertising and I hardly get any work from it!”

I’m with them in some ways.  In my view the advertising industry is all about money, money, money and getting as much of yours as possible.  Yes it’s very expensive generally and the return on investment is sometimes difficult to identify but advertising does have its merits.

The key to valuing advertising is not in how much direct business it generates – it won’t usually generate much – it’s in the brand recognition it creates.  Advertising is about getting your target market (the media’s audience) to distinguish your business and understand the value of what you offer them.  That way, when they recognise a need for themselves they are more likely to contact your business over your competitors.

Still, there’s a lot that has to happen between the ad and you getting the business.  That’s why you need to have other marketing tactics working at the same time to make that process much easier.

A Referral Plan

One of those other tactics is a plan to generate referrals for your business.

You can bet that 8 out of 10 customers who are asked how they heard about a business will say “a friend told me” or something like that.  In a place like Canberra we truly do have only two degrees of separation.  The trick in business is to get those working for you.

What Goes in a Referral Plan?

Well, like all good plans you need to start with some goals.

  1. Think about how much you want to grow your business by this method, work out what percentage of referrals will lead to business (the effectiveness of your plan will increase this number) and how many referrals you’ll need to get per month and year to achieve this.
  2. Then do a SWAT to identify what you need to take advantage of, and what you need to fix in order to maximise your likelihood of success.  The results of this become part of your tactics.
  3. Given this, work out what resources (people, money and time) you are prepared to put into achieving the goals and any changes you’ll need to make to have those resources available (eg: training, budget, schedule).

You are now ready to put together your referral plan tactics.

Some Referral Tactics

You know your business best and should be able to come up with some novel ideas to get referrals.  Here are a few tried and tested ideas:

  • Revamp your customer service offering – nothing brings people (and their friends) back like getting the service they desire.
  • Develop a relationship with others who serve that market – there are other businesses out there that want to be able to deliver a value-added service to their customers.  Get to know them and offer special packages for their customers if they refer them.  It’s important though to keep these relationships going to achieve a good stream of referrals.
  • Diversify your service – think of other things related to the services you currently offer that you can offer to your existing customers.  Checkups, end of warranty service, reviews, training etc.
  • Referral cards – give out a card to existing customers to pass on to friends and colleagues.  You might consider offering them a discount or a reward for successful referrals.
  • Reminders – at every opportunity – every communication with your clients, don’t forget to ask them to refer friends or colleagues to your business if they were satisfied.  It usually takes 3 contacts at least to get people to take the action you want.
  • Post service survey – give new customers a survey aimed at improving your service.  Ask if they are likely to refer your business.  You may even consider asking them to provide the name and contact details of someone they’d like to refer.
  • Do a contest – Run a “Why I need and deserve….” contest with your customers and recommend they pass it on to people who might be interested.  Collect contact details of potential customers and follow them up quickly. You can select and publicise the answer which best reflects your key messages.

There are loads of other ways you can generate referrals.  It’s just a matter of doing a plan and thinking a bit laterally about how to achieve your goals.

I’d love to hear about other tactics your business has used to generate referrals.

Jean Mc

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Craig Munns - Sales Innovation

How are things going for your business? We hear a lot about how many businesses are hurting at the moment. Does that sound like your business? If so, what can you do about it?

A tight market is a great catalyst to think of new ways to do business in smarter ways. Your competitors are invariably looking to ‘batten down the hatches’ and ‘ride out the storm’ (apologies for all the sailing idioms). You can take advantage of this situation by looking at ways to capture new business, which can often be easier in this situation, as many businesses are just looking to keep what they have, and are not aggressively pursuing new business.

Looking for new business from a sales perspective is not going to cost you anything (or much more than you already spend). Your ‘hit rate’ may be lower, but at least you’ll be active, spreading the word about your business, getting some business, and preparing the market for the inevitable improvement, where you’ll be in a better position than your competitors.

The important thing is to be more active in this market (not less), and to keep track of what your prospects and clients are doing, so that even if they are not buying from you now, you will be a prime position to take their orders when things get better.

So see a tight market as an opportunity to gain more business, by looking positively at the market and the fact that many of your competitors will not be as active.

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Here are a few sales facts to help you along the path of business success…

 

 

 

 

Sustainable sales revenues will take at least two years to develop
Sure, you will get revenues before this, but repeatable business will take at least this long

There is no right or wrong time to contact a prospect or client
Unless previously agreed, call them anytime (during working hours). They will soon tell you whether the time is right or not. If you can’t get hold of them, leave a message/email to say that you called, and that you will call them back.

There is no limit to how many times you should try getting in touch with someone
It really depends on how much time you’re prepared to spend. The fact that they haven’t contacted you doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested. There are many reasons why they haven’t called you back, and unless you can read minds, you will only find out once you have been in contact with them.

You have two ears and one mouth – use them that way
Listen to your clients and prospects (the above statement is figurative if you sell online). Have a conversation with them. Make sure you know exactly what they want. Ask questions. Wait for their replies. Take notes. Act on the notes. Provide solutions.

Plan, Action, Review, Plan, Action, Review…
The actual cycle time will vary, but keeping to this cycle will give your business the best chance. Make time for each phase.

Cold calling is a great way of renewing your business
Get a list, verify the list, and call everyone on the list. Expect about 10% response. It will give you feedback, it will give you new types of organisations into your client portfolio, and it will help to insure you against any future specific market sector slowdowns. Continue to do this regularly, not just once.
If you run a web based business, changing the way you advertise to attract a different market segment will achieve similar outcomes.

Do Business Development work regularly
If you don’t, you will invariably suffer peaks and troughs in your revenues, or at worst, cashflow issues

There are essentially two types of salespeople; Hunters and Farmers
Which one are you? You really need both in a business to run effectively, but I suggest that if you can’t do this, engage Hunters (or do the hunting yourself), and get your delivery people to manage the engagements once they are established.

A good face to face sales relationship will beat any other type of sales relationship every time
For the important deals, make sure this is the way you develop the sale above all else.
People buy from people. A major part of this is trust. If you can’t get close to your prospect to develop a good relationship, then look at ways of generating trust. Ebay have their rating system, testimonials will also do it, but the face to face relationship is the best.

Keep in touch
Meetings, Emails (approved of course), newsletters, blogs, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Keep your profile fresh and updated. Keeping in people’s faces will remind them that you are still active and open for business. They will think of you before your competition. As Oscar Wilde wrote “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

You don’t need a reason to keep in touch
If you are genuinely interested in keeping your relationships going, call your colleagues and contacts once in a while, ask how things are going, invite them out for a cuppa. Invariably they will say yes.

Give freely of your time and expertise
Offering to help someone out with some advice for free (and with no expectation of return) is a great way to develop long term relationships and friendships. Of course, you will need to charge eventually, but you will find that the time to do this will come naturally.

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Craig Munns - Sales Innovation

Next to direct referrals, business gained from personal networking are the best business you can get, so it pays to know how to do this well.

Here are a few tips on how to network when you’re at a function.

Preparation

Before you go to the function, it pays to know what type of people will be there, and who will be there. You should be able to get an idea from the speaker or type of event it is.

For example, the opening of the Canberra Business Point facilities at the Canberra Business Council premises the other week attracted a wide variety of Canberra based business. By the nature of this market, you know that there will be a mixture of mostly small to very small business, with a few representatives of larger business with branches in Canberra.

Alternatively, a sit down lunch at a high class hotel in Sydney with the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank will predominantly attract senior representatives from large smalls to very large businesses.

What type of function you go to will be determined by the type of organisation and individual most likely to buy your products and services. I suggest that you focus on the profile of the audience that will be attending, rather than whether the speaker necessarily interests you (who knows, you may learn something anyway!).

In some cases (especially with sit down meal based functions), you can call the convenors of the event a few days prior, and obtain a list of attendees, and even nominate to sit with a prospect or two! Give it a try!

What to take

Always take the following; a large bunch of business cards (at least 20), some paper to write people’s details on (one of the small pocket sized spiral bound notebooks are ideal) a working pen, and, if you can’t see across a room without it being fuzzy, your glasses! For the guys, I always put my business cards into one pocket, and other people’s business cards into another pocket so I’m not giving out other people’s cards!

It pays to get there on time. If the invitation says 12:00 for 12:30, get there at 12:00. Maximise your networking time!

Working the room

If you go with people you know, DON”T stick together, and DON”T sit together! Talk to people you don’t know! That’s the point! Look for groups that are positioned in such a way that it looks like they ‘should’ have someone else in the mix. I.e. they are not facing each other directly, but both standing facing to a point in the distance. If it’s a group of three or more, if there’s a gap in their ‘circle’ feel free to go up and say ‘Hi’.

Saying ‘Hi’. It’s as simple as that. Everyone is there for the same reason, so they will expect you to do this. Say something like ‘Hi, my name’s Craig’ (and offer your hand to shake – keep a business card not far behind). Ask things like; what they do, who they work for, exchange business cards, and make that a point of conversation. Try not to ‘go for the jugular’ and sell something to them (at least not now!). Aussies much prefer to have a chat. If they are interested (or you’re interested in what they do), it will generally come up in conversation anyway. You will invariably need to make another time to chat in any case.

Once you feel there isn’t much more to say (sometimes that will be a matter of minutes, or it may be 1/2 hour, depending on how much you have to talk about), commit to getting back in touch (if you need to), and make a note of this, either on their business card, or in your notebook. Say goodbye, and look for another group.

Just keep on doing this until you’re interrupted by the meal announcement, or the speaker, etc.

Afterwards

After the function, follow up! Take some time after the function to arrange meetings, input the contact data into your database, and call people back (try and do this as soon as possible after the function, or as otherwise agreed).

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