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Kicking Goals

b2ap3_thumbnail_soccer_ball_sml.jpgMy ten year old scored his first goal of the soccer season on the weekend (complete with an enthusiastic post-goal celebration!). After the match, his coach told us that he had asked my son to be goalkeeper for one half of the match, as he has been asking the coach to do this all season. To the coach’s surprise (and probably some amusement) my son said “No, I’d prefer to be on the field because I want to score a goal today”. And lo and behold he did!

His decision making process was interesting. The coach’s request for him to be goalkeeper would have meant that he still had one half of the game in which to score his goal. But he seemed to think that in order to score, he needed to have a singular focus. And I think he might have been on to something.

Most of us have business goals. We might categorise them into long term and short term goals. We might allocate varying amounts of time to different goals, depending on their importance. But perhaps we are doing ourselves and our business a disservice by focusing on too many goals at once?

You are likely to have learnt via business experts that finding your niche is a vital component for success. I suspect though, that many of us meander along various paths and lose sight of our goals. This may be because we get excited by a new idea and want to explore its possibilities. Or it may be because we are too scared to let go of other options because it feels a bit scary to put ‘all your eggs in one basket’ and lose the ‘safety’ of those alternatives.

But I wonder what would happen if, like my son, we put aside what might seem like great opportunities and focus solely on a singular goal? Harnessing all our mental and physical energies into one ‘thing’ could result in some amazing achievements and previously unattainable goals.


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

 

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Is it just a dream?

b2ap3_thumbnail_woman_flying_crop.jpgYou are probably aware of the famous quote: “Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star”. I completely agree with this. There is no point aiming low because the best you can then expect is mediocrity.

There is a caveat to this assertion though! When dreaming big with your business ideas, your goals and aspirations have to also be grounded in reality. That is, you need to ensure that what you are aiming for is actually achievable and that you have the resources to achieve it.

Your brilliant invention might be something that you think is useful, but have you conducted research in the ‘real world’? Have you asked a range of people (or the niche market to whom it relates) whether the product or service really will change their life?

On one of the last episodes of Shark Tank, one of the pitches was for a hotel in a regional area where guests could check themselves in. It was aimed at business people, because as the owner of this business idea surmised, there is a lack of nice accommodation in regional areas, plus business people get tired of the time spent checking in and out when they travel regularly.

There were a few potential flaws that the ‘sharks’ pointed out to him. The first was that he had never run a hotel. The second was that the first hotel he proposed to build only had approximately eight rooms, so long queues were not going to be a factor. The third was that his margins were quite low, although fairly standard for the industry. Which meant that it would take a long time before he would see any profit and therefore no growth. In summary: he really had not done his research well, even though it was a nice idea and seemed to be meeting a need.

So don’t stop dreaming! But do make sure that you create a firm foundation for your dreams based on fact, not fantasy. Remember this quote from Colin Powell: “A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

 

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Rise to the challenge

b2ap3_thumbnail_woman_handstand.jpgWomen who start their own business often enter pursuits that are male dominated – and being a business owner in general has traditionally been the realm of men.

Some of us have felt (or still do feel) like we have to adopt male traits in order to make an impact and find success. This is often because many of our role models or predecessors in our chosen field are male. But while you might feel pressure to do this, in the long run it is not going to work if you try to be someone you’re not. Your customers will know you are not being authentic and you are unlikely to see success in your business because you are not able to use your strengths and abilities.

For example, if you are naturally friendly and like to put people at ease, but the ‘traditional’ way of interacting with customers is purely to ‘talk business’, don’t be afraid to be yourself. Of course there is always a balance – spending half a consultation making light conversation is not the best use of yours or their time!

Stereotypically, women tend to include emotional factors when making decisions. This can be really valuable – I have written recently about listening to your gut instinct, and that is definitely important! But if you find that many or all of your decisions are based on how you feel, you may find yourself making poor decisions. For example, we can all feel anxious, scared or apprehensive about a change in direction. But if we listened solely to those emotions, we would never achieve anything!

Finally, despite what we (or others) might be thinking, it is OK to fail. So many women that I know in business place enormous pressure to get everything ‘right’ and ‘perfect’. But I think most of us know, it is from our mistakes and failures that we learn the most. So be brave, surround yourself with other brave women, curb your perfectionism and rise to the challenge!

 

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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Going with your Gut Instinct

Although not exclusively a ‘female trait’, many women use gut instinct or intuition (or other ‘unmeasurable’ methods) in their personal decision making. But do you use it in your business decision making? And should you?

b2ap3_thumbnail_eye.pngMy answer is: yes you should. Early on in my business, I learnt the hard way that I needed to listen to those niggly feelings. Too many times I listened to what seemed like the logical factors in a situation (all very valid factors), but failed to take notice of the unsettled feeling I had which I couldn’t necessarily explain.

Most of the truly innovative and great inventions were born from someone trusting their gut instinct, because if they had listened to logic or the knowledge available at the time, it would not have looked possible.

Henry Ford is a really great example of this. Not only was he a great innovator in the car industry, he realised he needed to do something to change the extraordinary 370 percent employee turnover rate in his factories. So despite people thinking he was crazy, he shortened the work day from nine to eight hours and paid his employees a higher wage. By following his gut instinct, he reduced his employee turnover to 16 percent within one year, and began the successful empire we know of today.

Deepak Chopra says that “There are receptors to these molecules in your immune system, in your gut and in your heart. So when you say, 'I have a gut feeling' … you're not speaking metaphorically. You're speaking literally.”

So don’t be afraid to take heed when you’re your get that ‘gut feeling’. Learn to be attuned to it and use it to question whether your ‘logical decision’ is really the right one to make.


 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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Balance: is it mythical or achievable?

Elizabeth Gilbert (author of the book Eat, Pray Love) recently posted an article on her blog, saying “I feel and fear that the lovely word "balance" has accidentally become yet another weapon in the arsenal that we use against ourselves - yet another piece of evidence that WE ARE NOT DOING IT RIGHT”.

And she is right: most of the time when we are talking about ‘balance’ it is bemoaning the fact that we feel like we are not achieving it. We are behind in our work or not spending enough time with kids, partners or friends, or not getting enough sleep…and the list goes on. And to top it off, we often look at other people who seem to have it all together and compare ourselves negatively to them.

But what would ‘balance’ actually look like? When I stopped to think about that, I imagined that it might be quite boring! Because it would mean there would likely be no surprises, no unexpected events, and a fairly rigid existence. And from a business perspective, I imagine it would mean that opportunities would be unlikely to come my way because I would be safe and secure in my bubble of balance and not notice them.

More importantly, we have to stop comparing ourselves to others. We all have different tolerances, stress triggers, time pressures, family circumstances and so on. It is like comparing the proverbial apple to an orange.

Ultimately, the ‘balance’ you should be aiming for is to keep perspective about what you will be most proud of when business is no longer a factor. Will it be about how much time you spent making a profit or how much time you spent doing other stuff that matters to you?

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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Overwhelmed by choice

Is there such a thing as giving ourselves too much choice? Some recent research has found that when we are focusing on a goal, having more than one possible path to success can cause us to fail to reach any goals.

The research shows that at the beginning of a project, having a number of choices makes starting the process easier. But as you get closer to completing the project or task, having many choices can undermine motivation. It is the fact that we have to interrupt our momentum to make decisions that halts the process.

Having too many choices can also make us second guess the process and the decisions that have been made prior. This is not to say that you shouldn’t be flexible and open to shifting goals where necessary to respond to new information and so on. But creating an environment where we let ‘choices’ become the ruling factor, rather than the goal, it is highly likely that goals won’t be met.

This can be true for ourselves and our staff, as well as our customers. When customers are new to our business, giving them options is a great way to provide a positive customer service experience. But once they are a loyal customer, it can be beneficial to give your customers a single or limited path to follow. Giving them choice all the time can result in them getting frustrated: they trust you and want you to recommend the best course of action!

So find the balance for your business and your customers. Make sure you provide choice and consider many options at the start of a process. But as a goal draws nearer, limit the choices and focus on the final goal.

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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Don’t Doubt Yourself

Women tend to be their own harshest critics. We often doubt ourselves or second guess our decisions, motives and abilities. Often that doubt can be as a result of comparing ourselves to our competitors or fellow business women. I see many articles about ways to become ‘the expert’ in your field, and while that might be feasible or desirable, it is not an essential component, or a measure of, success.

So while striving to be better, learning from others and being mentored by those with more expertise than us, are all great actions to take as a woman in business, you need to assess your motivation. If your motivation for doing those things is because you doubt your own abilities and are seeking instead to emulate others, you are unlikely to find success.

Self-confidence is a common trait of successful business women. This doesn’t mean they know all the answers or never make mistakes. And it doesn’t mean that they are necessarily ‘the best’ at what they do in order to have that self-confidence. They have just learnt that doubts have a way of eating away at confidence and stifling the abilities you do have.

Theodore N Vail had a good way of viewing doubt: “Real difficulties can be overcome; it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.”. Or another way of looking at it, there are enough things to worry about without also adding your doubts to the equation!

This quote by Vincent Van Gogh is also a really lovely way to approach your doubts. He said “If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”. Don’t give your unfounded doubts a voice.

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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A Ship in the Harbour

“A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are built for.” This quote by John A. Shedd is so interesting for women in business. Most of us spend a great deal of time in our personal lives protecting and keeping safe those around us. So sometimes our instinct in business can be the same: to avoid risk and keep our business ‘safe’.

Occupational and hazardous risks aside, taking risk and moving outside the ‘safe zone’ is something that every highly successful business has done. Read the biographies of any entrepreneur or industry leader, such as Richard Branson or Steve Jobs, and you will see numerous examples of pushing themselves and their companies into ‘risky’ situations.

This is not to say that all their risks paid off: in fact many of them didn’t! And I am also not suggesting that we all need to follow the extreme examples of Branson and Co. in our own businesses.

But as this quote suggests, as a business owner, you have a particular set of skills. You likely started your business because you dared to dream that you could be a success. If you are being ‘safe’ are you doing what you were built to do?

So I am challenging you to re-capture those big dreams! Ask yourself:

-       What needs to change?

-       How can I do business better?

-       How can I exceed the expectations of my customers?

-       What can I do to create a truly unique experience for people who come into contact with my business?

-       What calculated risks can I take?

-       How can I generate passion and excitement amongst my staff to help me achieve my goals?

Are you prepared to try and fail rather than wonder what might have been?


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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Evaluation

Many business owners use the New Year season to take stock of their business and life in general. It is a great opportunity to set goals and plan for the coming year, and make changes where necessary.

Hopefully when you started your business, you went into it with your eyes wide open. If you didn’t, it would not have taken you long to learn that running a business means you will need to sacrifice some blood, sweat, tears, money, time and so on in order to achieve success. The tricky part is maintaining some semblance of balance. You need to ensure that your sacrifices are not outweighing your success.

The very first ‘sacrifice’ you should evaluate is family time. There is nothing wrong with short periods of time where work has to come first. But if you spend little time with family and friends and spend most of your nights and weekends working, you need to make some changes. Reflect on what is most important in life and work towards creating more, not less, time on that.

Find a leisure activity that is completely different to your ‘work’ and make it a regular (i.e. at least weekly) pastime. This gives your brain time to recharge and will ultimately provide you with more focus and energy. Ensure that you take regular holidays, where you completely ‘switch off’. This is critical now more than ever in the age of 24/7 access to technology.

Evaluate whether your ‘normal’ state is one of stress and anxiety. If it is, you need to decide if a shorter life span (which is ultimately what extreme, constant stress results in), is worth it.

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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Aiming High

 

Like most female business owners, you’ve probably got a list of great ideas for your business. You might even have a file full of ideas for new business ventures. So why haven’t you done anything about them? What’s holding you back?

Sometimes the things that hold us back are practical in nature: lack of financial backing, lack of time, lack of resources. But the biggest thing that holds you back is YOU.

Most of us limit ourselves without even realising. We make assumptions about other people and how they will respond. We make assumptions about the risks involved without really investigating them. We listen to the naysayers and stop listening to our ‘inner entrepreneur’.

And we often our set our expectations and goals too low. Why can’t you triple your income by the end of the year? Why can’t you make your business as big as you dare to dream it could be?

I love the quote: “Aim for the stars and maybe you'll reach the sky”. If you set your sights on a goal that most people view as “realistic” or “achievable” then you are aiming too low. Aim for higher than you ever thought possible. Give yourself permission to dream big.

And then: just take a first small step. You don’t need to achieve it all in one day. Start by doing one action that will take you closer to your goal.


 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

 

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When you shouldn’t listen

So you’ve been running your business by the old saying ‘the customer is always right’. This might be appropriate in the realm of customer service – although even then, there are limitations to this. But in the area of future planning, your business will benefit greatly from NOT listening to your customers.

Many business owners consult a range of stakeholders when making decisions about the future of their business. While this may elicit some useful information, this is where another old saying comes into play: ‘they don’t know what they don’t know’.

For example, if you surveyed your customers asking them what improvements could be made to your business, their responses are going to be limited to their experience of your business (or industry). If they are happy with your level of service, they are likely to say ‘no improvements required, we love XYZ business just the way it is’. This doesn’t help you to grow and improve, and it gives your competitors a much greater opportunity to move ahead in leaps and bounds.

Imagine if, instead of asking your customers what they wanted, you had a vision for ways that your business could be done differently (and better). Even at this point, if you consulted your customers about these new ideas, they are unlikely to see the value or need: they don’t know what they don’t know.

Ultra successful businesses are those who lead their industries and invest resources and brainpower into innovative and new ways of doing things. Continue to ask your customers to let you know when something isn’t working and what will make them happy. But don’t rely on them to dictate your future goals and direction.

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

 

 

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Accessorise

b2ap3_thumbnail_woman_shoe.png“I admit it's tempting to wish for the perfect boss - the perfect parent - or the perfect outfit. But maybe the best any of us can do is not quit, play the hand we've been dealt, and accessorize what we've got.” So says Carrie in Sex and the City, during one of her many musings on life.

Being a business owner is no different. Most of us have grand plans for our business – and so we should. But it’s easy to get bogged down in what we don’t have (yet) instead of focusing on the strengths and resources that already exist in our business.

Waiting until everything is “perfect” can often mean that an opportunity is lost. As business owners, we need to always strive to do things in the best way we can. But sometimes, “accessorising” what we’ve already got is the best way to start moving forward.

We should have long term goals, but while you are working towards those, look at ways that you can utilise the staff you have now, or ways that you can improve the systems you already have in place. Find ways to repackage products or services that you know are valuable for your customers. Team up with another business owner to get that exciting project off the ground.

Work with what you’ve got rather than looking for the “perfect outfit” – because it might already be hanging in your office, waiting for a great accessory to make it work.

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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Contact Us

Shel Design
PO Box 8142, Glenmore Park NSW 2745
0412 701 147
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ABN: 88 695 161 542

Contact Us

Shel Design
PO Box 8142
Glenmore Park NSW 2745
0412 701 147
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABN: 88 695 161 542

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