Friday, 12 September 2008

Time to Move On

This has been a very easy blog to learn on, to use and to build and I am a little sad to leave. I've decided to keep all the posts here for you to read - especially since you've taken the trouble to visit!

If you'd like to follow me to my new home, I'd be delighted to welcome you there too. There will be the same mix of news and tips, plus the occasional rant (you didn't really think I'd stop did you?) so I hope you'll pay a visit to the new blog which is at:

See you later ......

Thursday, 4 September 2008

A key question

This morning has been one without focus. As a result, I haven't got through half of what I wanted to! Some papers I needed weren't where I thought and I kept getting distracted by trivia. My mood wasn't good.

Then the phone rang (doesn't it always!). The caller quickly identified themselves and launched into what they wanted to say. I'm afraid I gave them rather short shrift! My mind was still on the missing papers and how far behind I was falling. While I wasn't rude (at least I hope not), I did actually utter those immortal words "Don't call me, I'll call you." (I can't quite believe I actually said that out loud).

How different things might have gone if the caller had asked me the one key question that I believe everyone should learn: "Do you have time to talk now?" and waited for the reply. I might have felt more kindly disposed if I had been given the option to hold the conversation at another more convenient time.

Oh well, enough of that... now, where ARE those papers?

Friday, 29 August 2008

Let's get refocused

It's nearly the end of the summer holidays and I can already see lots of invitations coming through for networking events, seminars and workshops. Business owners I've spoken to are starting to ramp up their marketing - and I'm no exception!

I've been kept busy over the summer both working with coaching clients and on new products. I'm consciously moving closer to my new business model - it's starting to get exciting now!

From next week I'm delighted to have several projects lined up with Southern Entrepreneurs, starting with leading a small Mastermind group and then, at the end of September, I've been asked to hold a Stress Management workshop.

Next week also sees the launch of a brand new joint venture that I'm really looking forward to and will announce here when it goes live!

As a result of all the preparation involved in these activities, blogging has rather slipped through the net lately! But, with the end of the holiday season, I know that all business owners will be refocusing on their targets for the rest of the year. I will resume more regular blogging and hope that the posts will continue to provide tips and inspiration for you!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Taking the plunge!

When I started my first business, as is so often the case, I didn’t have much money to spend on anything.  Coming from the big budgets of a global corporation, it was quite a challenge to learn how to get maximum impact for minimum outlay!  I still get great satisfaction from finding a ‘good bargain’.

However, this frugality has also backfired on me and held my business back.

You see, I believed it was wrong to spend much on training to learn more about business.  But the free or low-cost seminars and workshops just left me increasingly frustrated because they didn’t give me the whole story!

I’d been following several very successful business owners whom I admired, hearing them tell about the importance of investing in their personal development, and that they spent as much as they could afford (sometimes even more than was comfortable) on hiring a coach and training.

At some point a couple of years ago, it dawned on me that my belief was actually holding me back from success.  It wasn’t a case of waiting until I could comfortably afford to invest in training at all!  The training had to be done first, and then the business would be more successful.  Not really a light bulb moment, more of a ‘Duh, why didn’t I think of that before?’ moment!

All the time I was thinking small and penny pinching on my personal development, I was in effect saying that neither my business or I deserved more.

As soon as I took the plunge and started investing serious amounts of time and money in training and coaching for myself, that’s when I began attracting more business.  I was even able to get some of the training paid for under a government initiative!

Business is still growing, and I’m still investing in it!  Never again will I be a ‘cheap-skate’ because I now know that my business is worth the best.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Forward planning means you can act quickly

One of the many benefits of working for myself is that I can plan to do exactly what I want to do when I want to do it, pretty much most of the time.

During my corporate career, I was well-known for organising my workload so that deadlines were met.

It’s second nature for me to forward plan, although I know that isn’t the case for everyone.

Some of my business coaching clients have protested “Oh, I much prefer to be spontaneous, it’s more fun that way!” when I suggest they plan ahead. I shudder when I find out that some of these people don’t even have written business or marketing plans before they start working with me.

I find that having a very clear plan of what needs doing and by when, puts me firmly in control. It allows me to build in contingency time in case of any unexpected ‘surprises’ and that in turn reduces my stress levels.

Forward planning has enabled me to take on new projects while keeping on top of existing ones. I can see at a glance what needs doing and by when.

I’ve noticed that very successful business people use forward planning and organisation to help them take advantage of new opportunities. They may do this themselves or delegate it. The point is that by having their finger on the pulse of their business, they are able to act quickly when they need to and not jeopardise their current commitments.

If forward planning is good enough for them, it’s good enough for me!

What’s your best forward planning tip? I’d love to know.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Good manners cost nothing

I don’t know about you, but that saying was drummed into me from a very early age. As a result, I’ve always tried to treat people courteously, and remembered to say please and thank you, in all forms of communication. I don’t see why an email, phone call, or even a text message should be any different.

This week I’ve experienced two occasions when manners were missing or ignored. The first time was an email from an organisation for whom I’m giving a talk in October. The message read:

“Louise, Can you distribute the flyer to your own networks?”

That was all. No please, no thank you, just the words above. The message wasn’t even signed! Bearing in mind that I’m not being paid for speaking, I’m afraid the wording of this email has left me feeling disinclined to help out with marketing.

The second experience was a phone call that started OK and went downhill fast. The caller was someone I’d met over a year ago at a networking event. I keep in touch with him through my Ezine but he hasn’t contacted me since that first meeting.

The conversation started with him reminding me about his commercial finance business. He went on to give an example of someone he had recently helped and then offered me a percentage for introducing any of my contacts who resulted in business for him.

At that point, he apologised and said he had to take another call. After a few minutes he came back on the line, apologised again and we continued our conversation. Almost straight away, he took another call and left me holding on again. When he returned, I commented that he sounded busy. His reply that ‘if only they were business calls’ surprised me and I’m afraid any inclination to help out a fellow networker completely faded away when he took the third call – and left me holding, yet again. Our conversation finished soon after that.

Even though the interruptions were quite short, I feel quite strongly that they shouldn’t have happened at all. I don’t use the ‘Call Waiting’ service. When I’m speaking with someone, I honour their time by giving them my uninterrupted attention for the duration of the conversation. I suppose it depends what impression you want to give!

Am I being old-fashioned and over-sensitive? I don’t know. But I do know that good manners buy quite a lot of goodwill and they still cost nothing!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Recharge your batteries, recharge your business

It’s the holiday season and, for a lot of people, the pace of life and business is slowing down a bit.

This is a good time to recharge your batteries, and recharge your business. Have you ever noticed how we tend to put ourselves at the bottom of the list when it comes to satisfying our wishes?

Unless you’re practicing to be a martyr, there really isn’t any point in doing this. Ask yourself “How would I treat myself if I were my best friend?”

You’ve all probably heard the advice given to parents travelling by air with small children. In the event of the oxygen masks dropping down, you put yours on first and then your child’s. It’s not selfish, it’s common sense. What use are you going to be to your child if you pass out? And what use are you going to be to others if you don’t take care of yourself first?

Your batteries of energy and love are going to be empty if you are constantly giving. I know, it goes against everything we’ve been conditioned to believe but it does make good sense. Just think how much nicer a person you will be when you look after you first. You won’t feel resentful because your needs aren’t being met, you’ll have more energy and love to give and more to spend on your business.

So how are you going to invest in yourself? What is going to recharge your batteries? Perhaps you want to enrol on a course at college to gain new skills. Or maybe you're thinking of making changes to your business that are going to involve extra hours spent working.

Such investments are going to affect everyone you share your life with and it’s important you have support so you’re not trying to do too much. Yes, your family may have to do more in the way of chores than before but they will benefit from a much happier and fulfilled you. Don’t wait until the ‘time is right’ – because it never will be.

Perhaps your investment is something smaller, but just as important to you. It could be taking a couple of hours pampering yourself in a bubble bath, or curling up with a good novel once a week, making a date with some friends for lunch, playing a round of golf or going to the gym.

You could set up a chart for every member of your household and each plan your own investments to get your individual needs met.

Investing in yourself doesn’t have to cost a lot in terms of money but the gains from recharging your batteries are beyond price.

© Louise Barnes-Johnston