2016 Australian Holidays

If you are planning an event or activity this year, you’ll want to have a look at the 2016 Australian Public Holiday and School Holiday Calendar.

You often hear about value creation as a key to business (sales and marketing) success.

Creating something like this calendar for your clients, friends, suppliers, creates value – quite inexpensively. It also establishes sincere reciprocity with no strings attached (no email opt-ins!).

If you want to maximise your SEO, you’ll link back to the calendar instead of re-creating or copying it. There are half a dozen reasons you should do this, which I explain in detail in my Internet Marketing Toolkit.

 

 

Top 10 Blog Posts Of 2015

Every year, I publish a list of the top 10 blog posts for the year. Here are this year’s top picks from my collection of blogs.

Take a few minutes and enjoy – the best of the best.

  1. Anyone using Social Media needs to watch this video, because THEY KNOW.Top 10 Blog Posts 2015
  2. This emotional Christmas commercial will make you cry, but in a good way
  3. If you want to create a memorable business card, check out this info graphic.
  4. This blog post about Man Flu is well – hilarious!
  5. This is why drones and kangaroos don’t mix.
  6. I don’t know about you, but I thought we’d all have jet packs by now!
  7. An inspirational mother leaves a legacy for her daughter – priceless and timeless
  8. How to create a new habit – we all need it, especially at New Year’s Resolution time!
  9. Perseverance is something that has to be seen…
  10. No one wants unhappy employees – this infographic shows why

Overheard at a recent private workshop

If you are a subscriber or regular reader of this blog, you’ll have noticed that the frequency of my blog posts has been reduced quite substantially over the past few years. I have refocused my time, effort and attention on my most elite, high performance clients – my Platinum Program Members. Since these are private workshops, you wouldn’t be aware they are taking place. I thought I would share with you a few quotes that were captured over the two days of discussions – the discussion themes included:

  1. Determining the WHAT and WHY of difficult business decisions
  2. Creating Winning Proposals
  3. How to structure compensation plans, divisions and entities to achieve your corporate outcomes
  4. Determining what you want and don’t want from your business
  5. Business models – which one(s) should I choose?
  6. Determine the WHAT and HOW of important business decisions
  7. Preparing a business to be sold
  8. Stakeholders – How to deal with them effectively
  9. Project Management Principles – how to get them done on time and on budget
  10. Work-life Balance – is it achievable or even realistic?
  11. The Internet, the easiest thing that’s hard to do
  12. Automating Your Business – how to leverage limited resources while producing maximum results

Some of the quotes captured during the workshop:

  • The only crisis you will have in your business life is when you stop caring.
  • Your singularity of focus in all dimensions of your life should drive you especially when the waters around you are stormy
  • When you get conflicted internally – it’s because you’re unclear or unsure of the outcome you want to achieve
  • Successful people were where you are now BEFORE they were successful.
  • If you focus on what you don’t want you will attract more of it.
  • Your self motivation is directly related to the level of satisfaction you have with respect to the reward you expect – within your decision-making horizon.
  • There is always a cost of making a decision just as much as there is always a cost of NOT making a decision.
  • FOCUS on the WHAT – your Reticular Activation Systems (RAS) will come up with the HOW (solution).
  • You don’t publish blog posts for humans to read them – They are for the search engine (robots).
  • Your integrity, congruency and authenticity have to be in alignment with your ultimate (life’s) purpose.
  • The more components you can identify, value and communicate to your clients/staff the more valuable the proposition becomes.
  • You need to demonstrate all the components of the value proposition so you are able to “discount” from the top line and maintain your needed profit margin.
  • Separating the “what” from the “how” is how great decisions are made. Always start with the what and the how will take care of itself.
  •  Don’t hope for things to happen – expect them to!
  • How we are seen is how we are perceived.
  • You must know what your outcome is, before you start to do anything, otherwise you are wasting time, money and/or effort.
  • You must recognise who is supporting you (internally and externally) in your business to make sure they are justly rewarded and/or appreciated.
  • Never oversell what you are providing, your belief and conviction will speak louder than you could ever scream.
  • Everyone is begging to be led in at least one aspect of their life. Be that mentor, leader or inspiration for your clients, friends and family.
  • Don’t think about failing, always see yourself succeeding.
  • You must be able to substantiate a claim or value proposition to amplify the benefits.
  • Never forget who you are doing this for. There has to be a purpose to your business investments (sacrifices). Otherwise you will lose faith, belief and motivation to stay the course.
  • Inflection points are produced by a catalytic moment.  To take advantage of them you have to get the catalyst under your control
  • When you get conflicted, where something isn’t right; the conflict is within you because you don’t know what you (really) want.
  • We erode our destiny moment by moment through the decisions we take and the decisions we defer.
  • The more components of the value proposition you can identify and quantify, the more compelling the case becomes.
  • Each component of your value proposition has a cost and value, the more accurate you are in calculating (estimating) these, the more profitable and defensible your position becomes.
  • Disintermediation means you have to become the glue that makes it work better than it did before.
  • Your client or supplier’s calculator is different to yours. Their evaluation of the value proposition will be based on their calculator, not yours.
  • The value proposition you are presenting might be too complicated for the person you are presenting it to. If they can’t work it out, you have to explain it, step-by-step.
  • The more stakeholders you involve in your decision making, the more genuine and authentic you are, the more effective you can be in negotiating win-win-win outcomes.
  • Considering all stakeholders’ vested interests should be an integral part of your process, not by letting them make the decision, but ensuring their vested interests are fully addressed in the final solution.
  • The burden of the future should not prevent you from enjoying the present.
  • The future should never be a burden, if it is – change it, now!
  • The basis of your (current) thoughts is the result of your (previous) thinking.
  • If you knew you could NOT fail what would you do?
  • You should know the cross-road before you get there.
  • Reconcile what you WANT versus what you NEED.
  • It¹s not the client’s role to tell you what they want; it’s yours!
  • You should NEVER complete your to-do-list. Only do the top 20% items because they give you 80% of your results and conversely the remaining 80% is a waste of valuable time because it only produces 20% of your results!
  • Be decisive, don’t use tentative words like: but, or, maybe, might, could, should, hopefully, possibly, probably.
  • If the reward is too far, you will probably give up on your dream. Create smaller goals to achieve that are closer in time, easier to achieve.
  • Don’t hope, expect.
  • There is no word for fortunate in French, only lucky. We are not lucky, we are fortunate to have the opportunities and choices – that we create.
  • Prepare for the worst, but expect the best.
  • Think different, not differently.
  • Be authentic and genuine, never manipulative.
  • When you come to the fork in the road you need to take it.
  • If you believe, it will happen.
  • If you’re not trying to do something out of the ordinary how do you know it’s not just ordinary?
  • Vested interest is always how the other person sees it. If you can’t see it you need to take yourself outside of your way of thinking, think like they do.
  • The more appreciation you have for outside-the-box thinking the better off you will be.
  • When you are spiraling “stop it!”. You need to come back to the “what” not the “how”.
  • Entrenchment is how wedded you are to the current way you’re doing things.
  • As you second guess yourself, it lowers the value of your service or product.
  • In sales, hunters are needed just as much as farmers.
  • Singular focus is the key, but this doesn’t equal one thing for life!
  • You’ve got to own who you are.
  • Think through the complete set of scenarios before you start implementation.
  • Prepare your business for sale 2-5 years before you want to sell it.
  • The intimacy of the relationship with the stakeholders in your business
    will vary on their degree of involvement.
  • The more stakeholders you have, the more leverage you can have.
  • Figure out your timeline …. and start the clock.

If you read the lists and thought to yourself – WOW! That’s a lot of content! You’re right. All our workshops are value-packed, outcome-driven, results-focused. Platinum Program Members have no time to waste and want to get to the bottom line – YESTERDAY!

The Platinum Program is based on my unique coaching philosophy and mentoring methodology. It’s not for everyone, in fact it’s only for the most committed business people who “measure up” to an exceptionally high level of commitment and desire to achieve.

If you think you’re up to it and want a challenging environment that will hold you accountable to your goals (and dreams), contact us.

5 Ways To Improve Efficiency In Your Business

Photo Under Creative Commons License: ThinkPanama

Photo Under Creative Commons License: ThinkPanama

Efficiency is extremely important in any business – you don’t want to be wasting time on simple tasks, and you also want to be able to have time left over to brainstorm new ideas and strategies. However, efficiency is a team effort, and you need everyone in your business to be as efficient as possible to see a significant impact, not just one or two people. If you think your business could be a little more efficient, here are some ways you may be able to make that happen.

1. Update Your Technology

Make sure all your technological hardware and software is up to date. If your computers are lagging or getting old, get them replaced. New software will usually also have better functionality, and some of these will make a world of difference, depending on what kind of industry you are in. For example, if you have a lot of stock lying around, you may want to invest in stock inventory management software such as Fishbowl to increase the efficiency of your business.

2. Clear Communication

Clear lines of communication are important for efficiency in the workplace. This means people know what they are doing and are also not afraid to ask for assistance or advice when needed. Open communication will also ensure the right messages are getting to the right people, and that employees are not getting a variety of directives from different managers.

3. Set Goals

Your employees will be more efficient if they are given goals or targets to meet by the end of the day or week. They will be more on task because they know what they are supposed to do and they have a direction in which to go.

4. Online Services

There are a number of online services you can use to not only increase efficiency but to also cut costs. VoIP, for example, is a popular alternative to installing set landlines and allows you or your employees to take calls even when you are out of the office. Cloud storage services are also a great way to make sure everyone can access documents at all times, meaning that employees can catch up on work no matter where they are.

5. Ergonomics

Ergonomics may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think about efficiency, but it can have a significant impact. Uncomfortable chairs and desks can be a barrier to productivity and efficiency, as these are a physical barrier to getting work done. Invest in some comfortable chairs and maybe even some adjustable desks, so employees can stand or sit while they work.

Efficiency is key to running a business, and these are just some strategies you can implement in order to boost this in the workplace. Remember that every business has its own nuances, so what works for another business may not necessarily work for yours.

Do you run a business? How do you make sure it is as efficient as possible? Have you found some strategies to work better than others? If so, which ones? Leave your advice and experiences in the comments section below.

Business Insurance 101: What SME Owners Need To Know

Photo Under Creative Commons License: Steve Wilson

Photo Under Creative Commons License: Steve Wilson

Whether you’re starting out in your own small to medium enterprise and are looking for basic information on insurance, or whether you’re looking for a refresher, you’ve come to the right place. Knowing where to start can be a little overwhelming, particularly while navigating the many legal and business requirements of starting an enterprise. Don’t fret if you’re feeling confused! Below is a list of some basic information you need to know to get started.

Insurance is everything

Before you even begin to contemplate your business as a whole, you need to think about insurance. Insurance is what will keep you financially secure if something goes drastically wrong. Take plenty of time to consider your options and, if in doubt, speak with someone about what would suit your needs. It’s even a great idea to find a particular industry insurer for advice. If you’re a tradesperson, for example, have a chat to a specialist company like Tradewise Insurance for industry-specific information.

Insure your goods and your business

Asset and revenue insurance will help cover the things that keep your business operating and flourishing. For instance, tradies rely heavily on their vehicle and tools. It’s vital they insure their vehicle against all motor-related issues, and that they insure their tools against burglary and breakdown to help protect their business. You can also insure against unexpected interruption of business or loss of profits due to unexpected circumstances. This protection is vital for small and medium enterprises!

Cover yourself and your workers

Personal and workers insurance is your best way of protecting yourself and other employees as well. Injury, illness or even death in the workplace can cause extreme hardship for the worker and their family. Workers insurance will not only save your business from expensive costs, but it will ensure your workers are protected should an accident occur. Personal insurance will also ensure you and your family are looked after in the event of an accident or illness. This can include short or long-term absences from work, a diagnosis of an illness, or any other type of trauma that will cause you to give up work. While it’s not fun to think about these potential circumstances, it’s incredibly important to look into the right type of cover.

Cover yourself against claims from the public

Public liability insurance means you will not need to pay any costs incurred from illness, injury or damage caused to a member of the public or their property as a result of your business and work. Put simply, if someone trips over your toolkit and breaks their leg, your public liability insurance will cover any legal costs incurred. This is an invaluable type of insurance to have for small and medium businesses.

These are the basic types of business insurance in a nutshell. Have you found insuring your business a confusing process? Or perhaps you’ve been in a situation where you wished you had the right type of cover? Share your best tips and thoughts in the comments.

Women In Business Resource

As you (should) know, I am a huge advocate for more women in business and a proponent of female entrepreneurs. If you would like to know how much progress has been made and what still needs to improve, have a look at this valuable up-to-date infographic on women in business….

 

Exponential Marketing 101

Today’s topic is the example of a good idea that could have been great. First, have a look at this IT workshop Money Back Guarantee proposition… Don’t get me wrong, it’s different and will probably resonate quite well with the target audience, but can you pick up the sub-optimal presupposition?

Money Back Guarantee, Pricing For Value, Optional Pricing, Pay For Value

It’s not obvious… Re-read it again.

Continue reading ‘Exponential Marketing 101′

Market Correction Or Crash?

As you have undoubtedly seen, the financial markets are in a correction and there is considerable concern about what’s coming next.

I have, over the past year, been preparing our Platinum Members to “weather the storm” and I felt I owed you at least one personal reminder (warning) about what’s coming.

I have blogged about this several times:

So I think I’ve done more than my fair share.

Today’s blog post is just one last friendly “warning” so you have a chance to consider preparing and protecting yourself, your family and your business.

As an optimist, I hope the “cliff” doesn’t happen,
but as a realist, I know it’s inevitable.

The cliff won’t be the end of the world – just very, very hard for those unprepared and unprotected. I hope you take this warning seriously and do what you can so you can continue to move…

Onward and upward!

Marc

P.S.
This is not a call for clients to come work with me. This is strictly an “absolution email”.

I want to be able to sleep at night knowing I did what you would expect me to have done… Tell you what’s coming.

Now I can sleep well at night knowing I have done what I needed to do and the rest, well that’s up to you. We all live with the consequences of our decisions and this will be no different, other than the level of hardship that many will face, which is why I have made this extra effort.

This is the last blog post I will publish regarding this. I am not a fear monger, nor a conspiracy theorist.

I have fully researched the basis of the prediction AND what to do about it, before, during and after the “crisis”. This phenomenon has been fully and thoroughly documented, explained and analysed by really smart people who have made millions (in some cases billions) from previous corrections and crashes.

All the guesswork in knowing what to do and not do has been completely removed. Amazingly, none of the protective prescriptions prohibit growth should it not occur, which is why I think it antimimeticisomorphically exponential!

Financial Market Turmoil

What would you pay NOW to have seen ‘this coming’?

Hmmm…. Interesting.

Even though I blogged about recent market volatility just last week and published a warning a year ago

I venture to guess most people discounted those “predictions” as fear mongering, contrarian thinking or even “conspiracy theory advocacy”… because that’s what the herd does, that’s why bubbles exist and why they pop.

My clients are a calm lot today and will sleep well tonight knowing they’re totally covered. They saw this coming and got prepared. But it’s not yet over, this is just the beginning…

No, no, no… Not the end of the world…

But the beginning of the setup to the single most incredible opportunity we will have to make a fortune. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The point is – imagine if you saw this coming,

  • What would you have done to protect yourself and your business?
  • Would you have taken advantage of it?
  • How would you have taken advantage of a market downturn?

That’s what it’s like to be a client of mine – I call it 20/20 Foresight: Knowing what’s going to happen BEFORE it happens.

If you want to make the most of what’s going to happen next…

Contact us and we’ll let you know if you qualify to become a client.

 

Entrepreneurship Definition

Entrepreneurship Defined: Living a few years of your life like most people won’t so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.
Entrepreneurship Definition

5 Ways Your Business Can Save Money

Photo: Ken Teegardin Under Creative Commons License

Photo: Ken Teegardin Under Creative Commons License

Saving money and cutting costs is a perpetual challenge when starting or running your own business. However there are many resources out there you can take advantage of. It may seem unconventional and challenging at first, but by adapting to different ways of working, you can cut a lot of your overhead costs.

Here are five ways in which your business can save money.

1. Outsource

Outsourcing is a fantastic way of saving money for a variety of activities. This is because you can cut staff numbers, meaning you don’t necessarily have to outlay a lot of money on office space, technology and the other paraphernalia that comes with staff. For example, companies such as The Print Group will do bulk printing orders and other jobs for a lower cost than printing in-house. See this website for more information.

2. Embrace Social Media

Social media is a wonderful platform for marketing, selling and gathering information. It’s easily installed and monitored for any company, and best of all, it’s free. This makes it a wonderful marketing tool for start-ups without much of a marketing budget. Also, once you have built a following, you’re in direct contact with your customers, so you’re able to ascertain what they do and don’t like about your current product range and adjust it accordingly. For more Internet Marketing Advice <—- Click here.

3. Sell Online Cheaply

When starting a new business, you don’t need to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a flashy new website. There are plenty of free web providers out there that can allow you to operate an e-commerce site relatively cheaply. Until your business takes off to the extent that allows you to upgrade and spend money on a custom site, there’s no need to waste your money. For more Internet Marketing Advice <—- Click here.

4. Shop Around

When you’re organising manufacturers, logistics or other services, make sure that you shop around before making the final decision. If you are able to play competing companies against each other for a cheaper rate, you can often find you can save a considerable amount of money. Make the time to do this and you’re bound to save money.

5. Embrace Telecommuting

Be open to hiring employees from around the country, or even from around the world. This way you can save money on having people in the same office as you, saving on overheads, technology and everything else needed. By having people check in every day via free software such as Skype, you can run your business globally, yet not even have an office overhead to pay off. Thanks to cloud computing technology, you can also easily share business documents with individuals located in faraway destinations.

Cutting costs will take time, but with a few handy pointers the savings will roll in, allowing you to invest in the business aspects that truly matter.

Anatomy Of A Great Business Card – Infographic

Looking to design a business card, have a look at the infographic below of the anatomy of a great business card.
Anatomy of a Business Card Infographic

Antimimeticisomorphism: Take an inconvenience and turn it into an advantage

This photo says it all. How to take an inconvenience and turn it into an advantage.

It’s a classic example of antimimeticisomorphism: creating a defensible competitive advantage by doing out-of-the-ordinary things that create extra-ordinary results!

Moving Truck Second Floor

Photo: Andrew Powell – Montreal, Quebec

5 Ways To Help Your Business Grow

Photo: Ken Teegardin, under creative commons license

Photo: Ken Teegardin, under creative commons license

Your business is an extension of who you are and what you have worked towards for so long. Just like a child, a business needs cultivation and lots of time and energy to help it grow and thrive. While the early stages may be tiresome, hard work will pay off in the end if you put in the effort. Here are a few ways to help your business grow.

1. Plan to Grow

In order to grow, you need to have a business model that will allow for change and be able to adapt to whatever the current market environment is at any given time. Growth in business does not only refer to profit margins or an expanding workforce. While these things can contribute to business growth, your business can only grow if you are aware of what the market needs and can adapt to follow it. For help with creating a suitable business plan, consider enlisting the help of a group that specialises in creating business models for growth and development, such as Predictable Success.

2. Invest in Your Team

Your business will grow considerably if you have the right workforce. Invest in the members of your team. Give them considerable time to train and retrain and understand the business principles. The best workforce is one who feels comfortable and motivated in the work it is doing. Take time to encourage and reward their efforts.

3. Open Another Location

Business growth can be quite literal if you want it to be. If you have one location for your services, consider expanding by opening another location in a different area. More locations can help you grow your business and reach more people. If your business is not based at a physical location, consider opening one as a type of shopfront for interested customers or investors to see you in a different setting.

4. Build Your Customer Pool

More customers means a higher revenue stream and more people to use your products. Build and expand upon your customer pool as much as you can. Use both traditional and non-traditional methods to get the word out about your product. Many businesses now use social media campaigns to communicate with the public about what they offer. Grow your business by using the tools of the day to expand your breadth and market potential.

5. Expand Your Products/Services

Growing a business can often include expanding upon the products and services you already offer. Do you own a landscaping business? While you may own and transport all of your own tools and equipment, many people may own their own equipment and not enlist your services. Expand your landscaping services by also offering maintenance and repairs on external equipment, or provide low-cost landscaping materials (e.g. soil, plants or garden tools). Build upon the service you already provide to reach a larger customer base who may use only a certain aspect of what you provide.

No matter what your business plan, growth can only be effective through flexibility. You must be willing to constantly change and improve your model to achieve lasting results.

Business Loan – New Option

KabbageEveryone has a shopping list of things they need or want, for their business.  Usually those items are cast aside for lack of time, but usually because of money or lack thereof.  You can always swipe a credit card, hit up family and friend for some cash or make a crowd funding video and see how that goes, or tap into a Kabbage line of credit, a new innovative approach to business financing that takes into consideration your online payments.

The interesting aspect about Kabbage is that it goes beyond the limits of the traditional credit score to understand your online payment gateway selling patterns and rewards you for it. Very interesting!

Five Tips for Increasing Business Productivity

meeting_09Maintaining motivated staff is an integral part of keeping your business running efficiently. You need hardworking people to perform all the actions and duties required on a daily basis. Increasing your business’s productivity is an integral part of growing and creating a lasting impression into the future.

Increasing productivity need not be painstaking, but nor does it happen overnight.

Here are some tips to help increase productivity in your workplace.

1. Use Software Solutions

With the advent of smart technology, if you can dream it, anything can happen. Businesses often fail because they don’t use technology and software in the most efficient way(s).  Specialised productivity software solutions like GlobalX Legal Solutions can help business owners improve efficiency in their workplace.

These tools provide up-to-date information, streamlined workflows and access to a range of data to keep your business current and effective.

2. Have A Communication Strategy

Communication is vital for effective and efficient us of any technology. Information should never be delayed in getting to its intended recipient. We know the adage that information is power, but with technology, information is both leverage and empowerment when put in the proper hands with the proper directives.

3. Invest In Worker Training And Support

Investing in your employees is investing in your business. Maintaining an active and engaged workforce that is capable and efficient will have a positive impact on the output of your team. Employees will be more confident in their duties when they are properly trained and supported in their roles.

4. Planning And Organising

Increasing productivity means having set objectives in place to help you get there. Develop goals of varying lengths to help you reach certain milestones. Set plans for a month in advance, a year in advance, five years in advance and so on. Smaller goals can help you reach the larger objectives, but they need to be put into action and made a priority. Staying on track with your goals will help your business thrive.

5. Continue Evolving

Many businesses fail because they do not let go of their old ways of doing things. Staying current with information and trends will help your business not only stay afloat, but succeed. Allow your business the leeway it needs to grow and thrive in a continually changing market. This is not to stay that you should abandon your business model that got you to where you are, but you should also not let those hinder you from growing and transforming as you need to.

Common Business Law Issues That Can Hurt Your Small Business

As a small business owner, you have a lot to keep you busy. You deal with issues such as finding new clients, marketing your services and/or products and making sure your books balance properly. But of all the things that must be taken care of, the ones that stand head and shoulders above all others are legal considerations.

Operating within the parameters of the law should be the highest concern for any business, regardless of size. Unfortunately, many small businesses run afoul of legal trouble – often because business owners do not fully understand business law or may disregard it. Legal issues can come up at any time, catching businesses unaware and causing massive – sometimes irreparable – damage.

Some of these problems are typical mistakes many small businesses have encountered.

Take a look at some of these common legal issues and how you can avoid them.

  • Lack of strong written agreements. As much as we all would simply like to “shake on it” and leave it at that, the reality is all business agreements need to be put in writing. Without proper and verifiable documentation, agreements and deals become impossible to enforce – in effect, they become non-existent and you can be left with nothing to stand on. An ideal business contract should be in your favour, flexible and offer you plenty of protection in case things go awry.
  • Not having adequate legal help. Any growing business will need an established, experienced business attorney to represent them at some point. Without their specialised skills, your business will be at a severe disadvantage in issues such as employee negotiations, intellectual property rights and any litigation your company may face. It may seem unnecessary and costly to employ a business attorney, but their legal knowledge will be an invaluable asset that can save you a lot of money and hardship in the long run. With a wide range of commercial lawyers in Melbourne, you have plenty of options to explore.
  • Getting involved in discrimination and harassment cases. These legal hazards can easily cripple your business. Not only can they result in very costly legal proceedings, but they also draw a lot of media attention that will be bad for your company’s reputation. Ensure your human resources team is prepared to deal with any discrimination and harassment issues. Working proactively to promote a positive, professional work environment is the best way to head this issue off before it can gain any traction.
  • Unhappy customers. A large group of unsatisfied consumers can band together and do severe damage to your company with a class action lawsuit. Not only will this hit your business hard financially, but this will do massive damage to your brand and reputation – something you cannot afford to risk. This tends to spin out of faulty products or services, so providing your absolute best every time is key to keeping this problem at bay. Keep communication channels open for your customers and resolve any product or service problems as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • Disgruntled employees. Mistreating the people who work for you can be a sure fire way to invite legal woes. Employees are protected by laws that must always be observed – even if their termination is justified. Should you need to let an employee go, make sure he or she signs properly drafted legal forms that make the terms of dismissal clear – otherwise, they can pursue legal action against you and your company.
  • Ignoring copyright and trademark laws. Nothing can be as disheartening as staking your business on a product, then finding out you infringed another company’s patent and face severe consequences for it. If you are launching a product, check for patents and copyrights to avoid this issue.

“An ounce of perspiration is worth a gallon of blood.”

- Dr Marc Dussault

5 Common Mistakes Made by Business Travellers

Plane AirbridgeTravelling can be tricky if you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. If you’re scheduled to go on a business trip, you might be consumed with business concerns and not give any time to personal considerations. As an ambassador for the business, you need to make the most of your trip which can be quickly compromised by making the most common mistakes made by business travellers. Here are the top 5 and how you can avoid making them!

1. Keeping Records

Expenses pile up as you travel. When you return, your boss will most likely ask you for an expense report. This might be when you remember you did not keep any receipts and paid with cash for most transactions! You need to keep a record of everything purchased. Get a receipt for everything you can and, in other cases, make notes of expenses. There are some apps now that can keep a record for you – you just have to remember to put the numbers in!

One strategy I use is to have an envelope where I place all my receipts at the end of EVERY DAY. I keep cash purchases to a minimum, preferring to accumulate Frequent Flyer (FF) points with my purchases, plus the payment period on a credit card meant I would get reimbursed from the company BEFORE the bill is due (when I worked for someone else). Otherwise, you end up “funding” the business with your cash!

2. Lack Of Wi-Fi / Internet Connectivity

Do not assume that Wi-Fi is everywhere you will be or that it will be free. You could put yourself in a tight spot if you need to send an urgent email and can’t find an Internet hotspot. Today, this is akin to being organisationally incompetent. I witness it with clients from time to time – they are “offline” unexpectedly and their whole day/week or trip becomes a mess of missed calls, emails and totally avoidable STRESS.

Connectivity is no longer a luxury, but a necessity, just as much as a clean, quiet hotel room is.

3. Not Informing The Bank

Nothing can make someone panic quite like an ATM denying their request for cash while in a foreign country. When this occurs, most often the bank’s anti-fraud systems have detected an unusual transaction and has temporarily protected your account, much to your frustration. If you inform your bank of your travel plans prior to your departure, they can insert a message if and when any signals come up so they can be overridden by the remote operator. This gives you peace of mind that you will have access to your money, while also protecting you from suspicious purchases.

4. Unnecessary Trips

This one is self-evident except in many cases it doesn’t seem to be. People usually only consider the costs of travel – totally forgetting the opportunity costs of not being ‘at work’ or ‘home’. I am not against business travel, in fact I encourage it, but not at any cost.

You need to assess the costs and benefits of every trip. Ask questions such as:

  • How long is this trip going to last?
  • How long will it take to get to your destination?
  • What is the time difference between your current location and the destination?
  • Can you combine more than one destination, client, project or outcome?
  • Can you combine this trip with vacation time off?
  • Can you include family to kill two birds with one stone?
  • What is the opportunity cost of being away?
  • Is this the best to go?
  • Can it be scheduled to include a weekend and/or holiday?
  • Can you accomplish the same goal via a video conference call?

If the answers to these questions are in any way problematic, seriously consider whether or not the trip has to or should be made. There is nothing wrong with wanting to take trips – but the cost/benefit equation should stack up to a positive result.

5. Knowing When To Stop Travelling

Let’s face it, we have seen or heard the stories of the “roadwarriers” (travelling salespeople) who are “always on the road”. Some have to do it as part of their job, but many do not. They fail to see the alternatives and often with serious consequences to their health and/or home life.

Burn-out is one of those things you never quite recover from. I have seen the permanent scars it has left on victims. They are never the same after pushing themselves “beyond the limits”. Don’t do it, it’s not worth it.

You should not ignore the signs of physical ailments and make matters worse by pushing through to a breaking point. Listen to the signs and know when something is too much for you to handle. You will not benefit your employer or yourself if you are too ill to perform in meetings, negotiations or other demanding activities. It’s worse when you travel because you have to deal with time zones, a new environment and additional stress and distractions.

These mistakes are common but also quite avoidable.

Ask your travel agent about security plans, like the ones offered by FCm Travel, in case any mishaps happen while you’re away from home. As I always tell people:

“An ounce of perspiration is worth a gallon of blood”
-- Dr Marc Dussault

Creating a Positive Workplace Culture

Shutterstock - 210347026Creating a positive workplace culture can be enormously beneficial to both your business and workers. A well developed, a positive workplace culture can boost productivity while reducing staff turnover and sick days. A happier team will perform better, get along well and have a stronger sense of loyalty to your business, so it’s definitely something worth investing in.

Here are a few things you can do to improve the atmosphere of your workplace.

Invest in a Safe Workplace

It’s impossible to create a positive environment for your staff if they are at risk of injury or – worse – feel like you couldn’t care less if they were to be injured. It’s crucial to invest time and money into ensuring your workplace is a safe space for all of your employees and to let them know you are doing so. There are many online resources that can provide you with information regarding workplace safety, including the websites of companies that specialise in workplace injury lawsuits, such as Turner Freeman Lawyers .

Show That People Are Important

How many times have you walked into a business and seen a sign that claims “Our people are our most important asset”?

While that might be true in theory, in practice unfortunately, sometimes workers don’t feel this to be the case. It is enough for an organisation to say people matter, it’s what they do and don’t do that speaks louder than (empty) statements.

Since employees (staff) are the first impression a customer gets of you as an organisation, you need to make sure you make that first all-important impression count. Un or under-appreciated employees are the worst (anti) marketing and sales strategy you can deploy.

Encourage Communication

It’s important for management to communicate with staff and for staff to talk to each other. Positive communication in the workplace engenders a feeling of belonging and wellbeing. If changes have to be made, don’t just tell others; issue the advice with an opportunity for staff to comment and suggest alternatives.

Acknowledge Feedback

Once you’ve established a system that enables feedback, make sure you do something with it. A system that encourages staff comments but has no avenue for action will soon be seen for what it is: a device to make workers think you care. If you ask for feedback or other input, make sure you listen, acknowledge it and respond with action.

Show Staff You Care

A little appreciation goes a long way. If you expect people to work hard for you, they in turn are entitled to an acknowledgement you understand what they do each day. There is no need to throw lavish ‘thank you’ parties each month (unless they are genuine and authentic), but little gestures like awards and internal communications can mean a lot to a hard worker. Even the odd informal ‘thanks for your work’ as you pass their desk every now and then will have an enormously positive effect on a worker’s output.

A happy worker is a productive worker, and nothing can make a workplace more positive than a culture that acknowledges and rewards effort, encourages open and positive communication, and has bosses who really care. Building a positive workplace culture not only sends the workers home happier and healthier, it also brings in many benefits to the employer via a staff that is actually concerned about the success of the business. It may take a bit of effort to get the system perfect, but it will be well worth it in the long run.

All of this will appear as total B.S. if it’s not genuine and sincere. Employees have become all-t00-aware of the superficial band aids managers use to appease their teams. An authentic (real) leader knows what’s important to his or her team and makes sure those motivational factors are present and adhered to. Assigning “employee of the month” awards on a rotating basis is one simple example. If the same employee deserves to win 2, 3, 4 or even 10 months in a row – give it to him or her. That will send a CLEAR MESSAGE to the others. If NO ONE deserves it, SKIP a month to make the point!

Top Blog Posts Of 2014

Here are my picks for my top 10 blog posts of 2014.

  1. Top-10-Blog-Posts-2014There is nothing more powerful than 20/20 Foresight to know what’s coming in 2015…
  2. This is my favourite YouTube video of the year – brilliant – Word Crimes are committed by too many people’s.
  3. Antimimeticisomorphism is easier said than done – this example is priceless – poo pourri.
  4. The privacy pirates are still at it in 2014, maybe this guy’s one step ahead of them with his amazing mind reading skills!
  5. We all love our iPads… Who knew they are this versatile and useful?
  6. A metaphor can be the difference life and death, success or failure. This is one of my all-time favourites.
  7. This cute video says a lot about teamwork – Together Everyone Achieves More.
  8. Looks do matter – even if you’re a shark.
  9. I hope your calendar doesn’t look this this! Notice the caribou? Another great metaphor!
  10. Somethings are better left unsaid.

Bonus Blog Posts:

An Oscar Award Winning Speech worthy of its own Oscar!

If Noah was alive today

Enjoy the best of 2014 and may 2015 bring you all the wealth, health and happiness you deserve!