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Things to be thankful for

b2ap3_thumbnail_man-with-flowers_web.jpgWhen you are bogged down in the day to day tasks involved with running your business, it can be easy to focus on frustrations and become overwhelmed. We have all had ups and downs in our businesses, but to keep pressing forward, it is important to express gratitude for the benefits and perks of being a business owner. Here are a few things to be thankful for:

  1. First and foremost, you are in control of your business direction. You can choose what projects to pursue and work in the way that best suits you (and the way you want to). This means that you can make change happen: you don’t have to wait for red tape or for someone else to decide.
  2. You get to choose who you work with. You can hire people with strengths that compliment yours and with personalities you know you can work alongside. It is far easier to achieve success with people you connect well with.
  3. You can take time off whenever you choose. Yes, I know that there are deadlines, client requirements and other factors that affect your ability to do this! But essentially, you CAN take a day off, without having to justify it to anyone else.
  4. Many of us can choose our workspaces and design them to best fit our creativity. And many of us can also move our workspaces around, thanks to technology. We can give ourselves a break from the desk and work at the beach or a café for the afternoon. This does wonders for boosting our creative juices.
  5. As a small, local business, you have the opportunity to play a positive role in your local community. You know your clients and customers by name, you can get involved in local charity events and sponsor local sports teams. You get to show people the value of dealing with local business rather than a nameless corporate giant.

Generally, the most successful business owners are not those who have the greatest monetary success, but those who enjoy every step of the way. So find ways to be thankful every day.

 


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

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Inspiring Quotes from Inspiring Women

It has been a while since I’ve listed some of my favourite quotes from inspiring women but I think it is important to look to those who have ‘gone before us’ so that we can be inspired and learn from their experiences, mistakes and successes.

This quote from Mary Anne Radmacher (Author) is so important, especially for those of us who sit more on the introvert end of the personality spectrum and may feel that we have to be ‘loud’ about what we do: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”. Persistence and determination are vital to achieving any success in your business.

Gail Blanke, President and CEO, of a company called Lifedesigns, said “Walt Disney told his crew to ‘build the castle first’ when constructing Disney World, knowing that vision would continue to serve as motivation throughout the project. Oftentimes when people fail to achieve what they want in life, it’s because their vision isn’t strong enough.”. I think many of us struggle with this! We have a vague idea of what we want to achieve, but without a strong vision, we are unlikely to achieve it.

As most of us are no doubt aware, any success in business does not get handed to us on a silver platter! Madam C.J. Walker (America's first female entrepreneur millionaire), put it like this: “There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it, for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard.”

And a classic quote from Roseanne Barr (actress) sums up the attitude I think we all have to take in our businesses: “The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.”.

 

 


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

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What International Women’s Day Means for Women (and Men)

Every year, it seems that International Women’s Day isn’t just about celebrating women, it also generally creates many discussions and debates about equality. Some of these discussions are not helpful and only result in widening the gap in understanding between genders (and often amongst women themselves).

It should be a great opportunity to challenge stereotypes for women in business, not only to champion the cause of women, but to also shift the consequences for men. Although stereotypes have some measure of reality, this doesn’t mean that everyone fits the stereotype. For example, there is often an assumption that men are more rational than women, or that men are the ‘strong’ ones. Being more realistic about the variations amongst men and women, which are probably due more to personality than gender, takes the pressure off both sexes.

A big part of showing what women in business are capable of (and a way of smashing stereotypes) is to tell their stories. Via this column I have showcased some inspiring women (and I plan to do it a lot more!), because role models are a powerful way of showing women what they can achieve (despite stereotypes and attitudes of others perhaps indicating otherwise).

Malala Yousafzai, despite her young age, is one such role model, whose bold actions, and subsequent speeches, have provided us with many inspiring quotes. This one perfectly summaries this topic: “We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”. What a profound yet simple statement! Of course she is right: equality for women in business is not solely for the benefit of women. When women are given opportunities, and a culture in which to succeed, it benefits all of society.

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them” (Unkknown)

 


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

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Australian (business) let us rejoice

b2ap3_thumbnail_Aus-Flag_sml.jpgAs Australians, we are known for having a bit of a whine about, well, almost everything! And the reality is, it is not hard to create a list of things that make operating a business in Australia a hard task.

According to recent research, the average Australian small business spends about five hours a week on red tape and compliance. This includes GST and BAS compliance, employment laws and superannuation regulations.

We have the highest minimum wage in the developed world and penalty rates are high. Adding up four weeks of annual leave, two weeks’ worth of public holidays, sick leave and other entitlements, means that small business owners are paying employees for nearly two non-working months each year.

Our transport costs are high, trading hours are regulated in some industries, rent is astronomical in urban areas and I could go on!

If you look only at the disadvantages of operating a business in Australia, your outlook would be very grim. But we can choose to focus on the negatives (which can only lead to failure) or we can give more attention to the positives.

Particularly as we mark Australia Day, a great way to do this is to look back on all the inventions that have come from Australia (most of which have turned into thriving and valuable enterprises). These include: the black box flight recorder, spray-on skin for burns victims, cochlear implant, the electric drill (back in 1889!), permaculture, wi-fi technology, the inflatable escape slide for aircrafts, and many more examples. I guarantee you that each of these inventors and entrepreneurs would have spent a great deal more time on their passions and projects, than focusing on the negatives.

We have a culture of innovation and exploration. Tap into that history and acknowledge that we truly live in the lucky country. Happy Australia Day!

 


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

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How creative is your business?

b2ap3_thumbnail_pencil_scribble_lowres.jpgMost businesses these days need to be innovative, often in the way they market their products, but also to promote growth, to attract the right staff and many other reasons. So being a ‘creative workplace’ is not limited to those of us in creative industries!

It is common knowledge that we generally all need an inviting workspace in order to work productively. But have you spent time recently assessing your workspaces? Open spaces, access to greenery (via windows, easy access to the outside or indoor plants), clean and convenient kitchen, large desks, up to date equipment, whiteboards and pin boards (for those moments of inspiration!), and comfortable seating are just some of the ways you can improve your workspace.

Have you noticed that the best and most creative ideas often come in the middle of the night, or over a relaxed lunch or at other times outside the standard nine to five work day? If it is possible in your industry type, consider allowing your staff (and yourself) to work flexible hours. For example, if you know someone is more productive in the very early morning, let them work from 7am and leave mid afternoon. You will gain tremendous benefit in the form of ideas and will also boost staff morale because employees are working in a way that makes them most happy.

A sure fire way to boost creativity in your business is to increase the fun! Inject some spontaneous activities into the work week: surprise your employees with unexpected gifts or rewards, buy everyone iceblocks when the temperatures skyrocket, announce that the next work day is ‘loud shirt’ day. The possibilities are endless and the benefits will include a happier workplace, and quite possibly staff who brag about their great working environment, hence attracting a higher standard of employee. Everyone wins!

 


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

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An ode to home based businesses

To kick off the new year, I am focusing on home based businesses: because I know there are many of you out there!

b2ap3_thumbnail_woman_work_home_sml.pngMost of us are aware of the pros and cons of working from home. And if you have been operating for any length of time, you will know how much hard work it is too. So here are some tips that will help you to maximise the positives:

• Take regular breaks. This can be tricky at home because it can be easy to be distracted by the home environment. So make sure your breaks involve physical exercise or even just getting outside to eat lunch. And if you do want to undertake ‘home’ tasks, make sure you put a time limit on them so they don’t eat into your work time.

• Create designated work times. These times should also be communicated to your family and friends so that you can maintain uninterrupted work wherever possible. Many home based business owners find that their friends and family don’t take their work ‘seriously’ and think that all manner of activities and tasks unrelated to work can be included in your work day. Of course flexibility is a great advantage to working for yourself from home, but if your day is full of unplanned interruptions, your productivity will decline.

• Interact with others. A large proportion of successful home based business owners lean toward the introverted end of the personality spectrum. This means that they work well on their own and don’t always need to interact with other people. But this isn’t necessarily a good thing! At some point, we all need to talk to and relate with others who are in similar environments. So if you aren’t already doing this, make networking a new year’s goal!

 


 


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

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Inspirational Women

When I research topics for this column, it is primarily quotes and/or business advice from men that I come across. This advice and the motivation that can be found in those quotes is inspiring and can definitely be useful for women in business. But I think it is also important for women to hear from other women. There are unique struggles for female business owners and sometimes we need to hear from those who’ve forged the way before us!

So here are some of my favourite quotes for and from women in business:

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” (Mary Anne Radmacher)

“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.” (Anne Sweeney - President of Walt Disney)

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” (Marissa Mayer - CEO of Yahoo)

“We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” (Arianna Huffington - Editor In Chief of Huffington Post)

And this one from Melinda Gates goes beyond the realms of ‘business’, but for me personally, is a great reminder of us all being part of a much bigger picture:

“If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember also that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped.”

 

 


 


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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How do you define success?

Success is an interesting idea to ponder. Each of us are likely to have different priorities and definitions of what success is. Even though the aim of any business is to generate income (otherwise it is essentially a non-profit organisation), how much profit, and what we do with that profit, is where the definitions start to vary greatly.

 

One dictionary definition I found starts with a general statement: “The accomplishment of an aim or purpose”, and one of the sub-definitions is “The attainment of fame, wealth or social status”. Personally, I think this is a very narrow view of success, because it focuses on the external results – which become quite subjective.

 

I much prefer this definition of success: “the fact of achieving something good that you have been trying to do”. I think this allows for a much broader spectrum of experiences that I know many female business owners would measure themselves against. For example, part of the ‘success’ of my business (in my opinion!) is that I have been able to earn an income while also being involved in the day to day of my children’s lives. I have created a flexible working environment that helps me to achieve that ‘balance’ between work and family.

 

I am certain, though, as female business owners that many of you will have come across other standards of success by which your business is measured by others. ‘Success’ for you may mean working part time even though working more hours might result in more profit. ‘Success’ might be achieved when you are in a position to donate and give away large amounts of money. Whatever your definition, don’t let other people’s narrow definitions discourage you to continue to strive for your own idea of success.

 

 


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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Motivation for Women in Business

I love motivational quotes. Yes, they can get annoying and asinine when you see meme after meme appearing on your Facebook feed, but there is definite value in pondering the thoughts of those who have been before us in business. So here are some of my favourites (and why I’ve chosen them):

“Done is better than perfect” (Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook): although I am not a fan of all the ways that Sandberg views business, I agree with this statement. Particularly in current society, technology forces change much more quickly than we have ever experienced. Therefore, we have to shift from waiting until something is perfect, to knowing when something is ‘good enough’.

In the same vein is this quote from Meg Whitman (CEO of HP): “The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of a mistake”. It is far better to launch a new idea, with the risk of making some mistakes, than to launch an idea too late (or not at all). What is innovative and relevant now has a high chance of not being relevant if you wait. Get moving on your ideas and use the mistakes (that you are highly likely to encounter), to improve your product or service. Learn from your mistakes!

And this quote to end on: “Never work just for money or for power. They won’t save your soul or help you to sleep at night” (Marian Wright Endelman, Activist). If your chief motivation for having your own business is to make lots of money, you may just do that. But you may also ‘lose’ a lot of other personal (and frankly more important) things in life. Work on what you are passionate about, and the rest will follow.

 


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

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Are you prepared to fail?

As a business owner, you can find many sources of information on how to succeed. But not many of them tell you that you also need to be prepared to fail. When you run a business, you can often feel like you have something to prove. When you first start out, particularly if it is an unconventional business, there can be people who view your ‘business venture’ as a ‘phase’ or are negative about its potential success. So often there is pressure to always make sure business sound successful.

But there are very few business owners and entrepreneurs who have not failed at some point in the journey, in both big and small ways. Some experts will tell you that it takes several ‘falls’ (including complete business failures) to find success. And if you go into business ownership expecting success at every turn, you might want to shift your expectations!

This is not all doom and gloom! In fact, many experts will tell you that failure is quite possibly a requirement for success. We learn inherently more from ‘what not to do’ and most of us are highly motivated not to make those same mistakes again.

Risk is, of course, relative. That is, when you are 20 years old, single and have no mortgage, the failure of your business is perhaps not as dire as someone with three children and a long list of expenses. But here’s the clincher: every worthwhile thing in business (and life) has risk. The greater the reward, usually, the greater the risk.

So the key is not to dream about success, but to take some calculated risks and take steps to make it happen. And don’t expect that there will only be one risk – your business journey will require continual evaluation, and taking of, risk.


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

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It’s Not For Everyone

In the early days of being a business owner, I quite regularly encouraged many friends to start a business themselves. As time went by, however, I began to realise that my well meaning advice might not be so valuable. I was beginning to be aware that not everyone is cut out for business ownership: but I also thought I would come across as ‘superior’ if I stated that fact.

But I have realised that business ownership requires a particular set of personality traits. It requires being comfortable with risk and the potential for instability or unknown outcomes. It requires being excited about the journey as much as the end result.

Often people who have never run their own business only see the ‘glamorous’ side: setting your own schedule, working from home (in some instances), being your own boss, and so on. And while these are all aspects that are positives, there are also many things that are not as easy or good as they seem: being ultimately responsible for the failure or success of a project (or in fact the whole business) or needing a high level of intrinsic motivation to keep forging ahead. But for someone who is ‘cut out’ for it, those ‘negatives’ are not a hindrance – and in fact can be what they thrive on.

The fact is, we need all personality types to keep the world turning. We need people to work in supermarkets and factories. We need teachers and mechanics. We need garbage collectors and lawyers. And we also need business owners to do what they do and wear that badge proudly!


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

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Motivation

MotivationGood bosses are concerned with their staff motivation. They will put processes in place to ensure that productivity is optimum, that workers feel supported and that staff are generally happy in their workplace.

But what about you as the business owner? Do you have processes in place to make sure you keep motivated? What is it that motivates you to keep moving forward in your business?

Often these questions are not answered by women business owners. They are too busy either dealing with staff motivation or get caught up in the daily tasks of ‘doing business’. And then burnout starts to appear on the horizon and they realise that they’ve neglected to take care of their own motivation.

Sometimes, all it takes is being cognisant of your underlying motivation for running your own business. You may be motivated by seeing positive outcomes and results. You may be motivated by the fact that you are the boss and don’t answer to anyone else. You might be motivated by the flexible lifestyle your business affords you.

However, for most of us, those reasons are not always enough to get us through the tougher times. You may need to put in place other external motivators that help to push you forward. This might be meeting regularly with a business coach. Or it might be booking regular weekends away so you have those to look forward to at the end of a stressful work period. Or it might be surrounding yourself with other female business owners who can rejoice or commiserate as required! Most importantly, make sure you take care of your own motivation first otherwise it will have a trickle down affect throughout your whole business.

 


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

 

 

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Your Cheer Squad

Last Sunday, my 7 yr old and I were cheering on my brother in the half marathon at the Sydney Running Festival. While we were waiting for him to run past us, someone nearby was yelling encouragement to all the competitors. I was unsure whether he was an event official or just an enthusiastic spectator, but I was fascinated by the effect he had on me, let alone the competitors!

What I noticed about this person is that he wasn’t just clapping and cheering, he was very specific in his encouragement and praise. We were standing about 500 metres from the finish line and I could hear him saying “You’re almost there – push through the pain”, “You’ve made it this far – finish well”, “Amazing effort – give your all right to the finish”, and so on.

He was also consistent and made sure he could be heard by all the competitors as they ran by him. I was getting inspired and I was just watching the race! So I can only imagine what it meant to the competitors.

What a great message for women in business. Despite any thoughts you may have to the contrary, you cannot succeed in business without a cheer squad.

You need people around you who know what they’re talking about, who can give you specific encouragement and advice, and who are committed to championing you. You need people at every step of the way who can tell you what you need to hear (not just what you want to hear!). Your motivation will increase immeasurably and you will be amazed at how much more productive you can be.

 


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
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABN: 88 695 161 542

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