article archive

Do you bad mouth your competitors?

b2ap3_thumbnail_woman_yelling_20160314-050349_1.jpgIf you’ve been in business for more than a few years, it is possible that you’ve encountered someone ‘bad mouthing’ you or your business. This happened to me and it was quite shocking at the time.

Sadly for my ‘bad mouther’ it did her no favours. Even if there had been any truth to her statements, her actions said far more about her ethics and attitude than it did about the (false) statements about my business. It is quite interesting to have observed from afar a number of other business relationships (and even friendships) that have fallen apart due to this person’s dealings.

Interestingly for me, since that incident (the one that I knew of anyway!), I have had many occasions where I could have chosen to speak negatively about her business. I regularly have clients who ask ‘why does XYZ company do that? It seems unethical to me’, in relation to an opposing policy we have. I have to choose my words carefully each time, ensuring that I sound as diplomatic as possible.

So why wouldn’t I take this opportunity to bad mouth my competitor? Especially seeing that it’s my client who has raised the issue, not me? Aside from my personal resolution to speak kindly about others, I believe I can achieve my goals without ‘trash talking’ the competition. I have many happy clients who haven’t come to me because I’ve told them how good I am or how much better I am compared to my competitor. I let my work and my actions with them speak for themselves.

Bad mouthing your competitors can come out of frustration; you believe you genuinely have a better product or service, but it can be hard to convey that without making negative comments about your competitor. But remember: your customers are looking for reasons to engage with you, not reasons why not to engage with someone else! Your comments, even if they are well-meaning or out of concern for your customer’s welfare, can become counter-productive and undermine you.

 


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

Continue reading
  3059 Hits
3059 Hits

I found myself multitasking again!

Multitasking webThis year I have actively been attempting to take my own advice and stop multitasking. In reality it has been more a case of trying to reduce rather than completely eliminate! But it is a start.

But a few days ago I caught myself at a particularly bad multitasking moment: I had five different screens and programs open on my computer (moving back and forth between a number of jobs and social media), I was checking the calendar on my phone and scribbling reminders on my notepad and to top it all off, eating lunch at the same time.

I know it’s a sign of my busiest time of year, where all my usual habits for planning and prioritising go out the window. But that is where the excuses need to end! Because as I just alluded to, it involves re-writing and creating new habits. Unfortunately, although my ‘rest of year’ habits have improved, as soon as ‘crazy end of year’ time came into play, the habits were forgotten.

Are you in the same boat, either in your busy times or all year around? Here are some tips to change your work patterns and ditch the multitasking!

  1. Stop and tidy up. Most of us don’t keep a completely clean desk or work space 100% of the time. Clearing the clutter, filing and cleaning up has a great impact on your ability to focus on tasks.
  2. Write out your tasks for the day and/or week. And then spend some time prioritising them. This doesn’t have to be an exact science or follow a prescribed ‘system’ (even though there are many good ones out there). It may be as simple as circling the urgent jobs or doing all the little tasks first.
  3. Turn off your email and social media notifications. Instead, set a time limit (e.g. once an hour at most if you can) and check only at those times.

These tips are just a start, but will go a long way to helping you focus on all the things that need to be done, reducing distractions and increasing your productivity.

 


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

 

 

Continue reading
  4234 Hits
4234 Hits

Thanks and gratitude go a long way in business

ThankYouWhen you have been in business for a while, it is easy to become complacent. You rely on those repeat customers and regular clients. You take for granted that the great suppliers you have established ties with will always be reliable. You get used to the support of colleagues in your business networks.

When you stop to think about those stakeholders, I am sure you are fully aware of how important they all are to the success of your business. But when was the last time you thanked them?

The end of the year is an opportunity to say ‘thanks’ to the people who support your business, both directly and indirectly. Wherever possible, this needs to have a personal touch, rather than generic communication. Handwritten notes or cards are a great way to convey your appreciation, and allows you to add specific words of thanks if appropriate.

Although it shouldn’t be used as a sales pitch, there is also nothing wrong with including a (useful) branded item or using a thank you card with your logo on it. Although a personal touch is warranted, it is still a professional relationship that you are taking care of, not a heartfelt letter to a best friend!

But here is a key consideration: any expressions of gratitude or thanks should be done without an expectation of anything in return. Although your thank you note will be from Mary Jones of XYZ Company, do it without expecting that you will generate more sales or more loyalty. Do it purely because you are grateful for what this person has done in the past, not for what you hope they will do in the future.

Ralph Marston says this beautifully: “Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you'll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you'll find that you have more of it.”

 


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

 

 

Continue reading
  3734 Hits
3734 Hits

Opportunity might take two or three times to knock

b2ap3_thumbnail_opportunity_sml.jpgI was watching a program on television recently concerning the rise of videos, and in particular, viral videos (those that become enormously popular by being shared unprompted on social media and the internet in general). It focused on YouTube and gave a short history of how the founders of YouTube got started. In short, their first attempts at launching a video platform were dismal – they posted a video and it received one view! They tried a few other changes to their idea and after a few false starts, YouTube quickly became one of the fastest growing sites on the web. About one year after launching, Google bought YouTube for US$1.65billion!

Imagine if the founders of YouTube, sitting in their garage with their new idea, had given up after that first attempt? Instead, they believed in their concept and continued to tweak the way YouTube functioned. It was not long before others saw the potential (most notably, Nike, who posted a video that was actually an advertisement, giving YouTube its first one-million hit video). And the rest is history.

While most of us are not going to have the phenomenal success of YouTube, we should still be on the lookout for opportunities. I think though that some of us view ‘opportunity’ as good luck or something that creates an easy path to success. Thomas Edison said “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

Another great view of opportunity is from Winston Churchill, who said that “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” So sometimes (or perhaps often?) opportunity is what you make of a situation, rather than something that ‘happens’ to come your way.

(And by the way, if you’ve never seen one of the most watched YouTube clips ever, go to ‘Charlie bit my finger - again!’ It has had over half a billion views and earned Charlie’s family more than $150,000).


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

 

 

Continue reading
  4050 Hits
4050 Hits

Following the Steps of Trailblazers

FollowingTheStepsAlthough many would argue that there is still a long way to go before we see true equality for women, it does pay to look back at what some trailblazing women have done. It makes us realise how far we have come and what amazing strength they had and sacrifice these women made. For women in business, this ‘trailblazing’ has given modern women much more scope and freedom to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

Edith Cowan is one such woman, a face you would be familiar with on our $50 note. She was a politician and the first woman elected to an Australian parliament. But more importantly for the general female population, she was instrumental in gaining voting rights for women. She was a staunch advocate for children’s rights, campaigning for the establishment of children’s courts, as well as many other political achievements. I am certain that she would have had many detractors and that every career move she made was met with opposition, but she pressed forward regardless.

Maude Bonney is someone you may not have heard of. She was an aviator in the 1930’s, who learned to fly secretly (but had a husband who championed her by buying her a plane when he found out!). What is awesome about Maude is that she didn’t try to change other people’s perceptions first before she sought to pursue her dream. She just found ways to do without everyone knowing and then went on to set many aviation records, including the first person to fly from Australia to South Africa in 1937.

A more recent trailblazer is Quentin Bryce, who became Australia’s first female Governor-General. She originally studied Arts & Law and became the first female member of the law faculty at the University of Queensland. She has been involved in, and founded, a number of women’s advocacy groups and seems to have done all this with grace and quiet determination.

So if there are days where you feel like you are breaking new ground and getting there slowly, think back on these women who have gone before us. We have a rich legacy of trailblazing women in Australia who can encourage us to keep going.

 


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

 

 

Continue reading
  3775 Hits
3775 Hits

It’s Gonna Be a Bright Sunshiny Day

ItsABrightSunshinyDayI am an unapologetic winter-hater! I have the occasional happy thought towards the cold weather when I get to wear a favourite coat. But that small pleasure is never enough to compensate for dreary, shorter days of wearing layers and battling the cold and flu season.

Today as I write this article, the sun is beaming and it is a glorious day. Without even realising it at first, my mood first thing this morning was completely different, even though I had just as many things on my mind as the day before. Even working indoors as I do, my outlook on the day was brighter and I felt more energised.

I know we are not all wired in the way I’ve described above (some of you strangely enjoy winter!). But there is a great deal of research about the effects of weather and exposure to nature on mood and overall mental and physical health. As small business owners, many of us are nose to the grindstone and tend to forget about stopping once in a while to recharge.

One study into the benefits of nature has found that the farther you live from green space, the more likely you are to be unhealthy. Other studies have linked a lack of exposure to nature to higher risks for obesity, cancer, heart disease, anxiety and depression. It also seems to be self-perpetuating: that is, the more deprived we are of the ‘outdoors’, the less likely we are to seek it (and to curl up on the couch instead!). Conversely, those who spend even just fifteen minutes walking in nature (rather than urban areas) seem to have dramatic increases in self-esteem, improved mood, and even boosts in creativity and memory retention.

Most of us really don’t have an excuse. Instead of eating lunch in front of the computer, go outside to eat. Leave home fifteen minutes early and go for a walk before you start work. It does not have to be anything strenuous – even sitting on a chair in a natural setting can have positive effects. Your body and your business will thank you for it!

 


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

 

 

Continue reading
  3392 Hits
3392 Hits

It’s Never Too Late

ItsNeverTooLateThis week I read about a very inspirational woman. Her name is Barbara Knickerbocker-Beskind and she is 91 years old. Her life story is amazing (please Google and read more about her!) which has led her to working in her ‘dream job’ as an advisor for a design firm, where she helps them to design products and services for the elderly and vision impaired.

When you read Barbara’s life story, you will notice that she has never stopped learning. She has said that ‘I tried to retire five times’ and eventually went back to school to train as an artist (which has helped now in drawing her inventions). She has never been willing to accept a traditional notion of work, and found ways to keep learning and doing what she loved to do (which has always centred around problem-solving and inventing).

I loved reading about Barbara’s confidence in herself and her abilities. When she saw a story on TV about the design firm that she has now worked at for the past two years, she didn’t just ponder how nice it would be to work there. She said “I have a unique kind of life experience and designing skills - I could be of value to their firm”. What an amazing attitude at age 89! Even her inability to use computers (because she has macular degeneration) didn’t deter her – she simply sent them a typed letter in the mail and told them what she could do for them.

Barbara has always had a willingness to make things happen, without the need for perfection or a ‘glamourous’ end product. If you read articles about her, you will likely see examples of some very simple solutions that she has devised (for friends and her workplace) that most of us would never have conceived because we are searching for the ‘perfect’ solution.

Barbara’s tenacity and quiet confidence has been the key to the satisfaction she has gained in her life. It has resulted in not only her own happiness, but has enabled her to bring comfort and assistance to those around her. What a legacy!

 


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

 

 

Continue reading
  3709 Hits
3709 Hits

When was the last time you stretched?

b2ap3_thumbnail_antigravityyoga_sml.jpgLet’s face it, most of us are creatures of habit. We tend to gravitate towards the familiar and choose comfort over discomfort. And why wouldn’t we? It is the human condition to strive for happiness. But is it possible to grow and change for the better without stretching ourselves into new situations?

But who wants to plunge themselves in the deep end in order to make a change? Actually, I don’t think you have to do it like that. And in fact, lasting, effective change is more likely to occur when change is gradual and measured.

A few months ago I started attending AntiGravity Yoga classes (it involves performing a series of exercises inspired by yoga, Pilates, calisthenics and aerial acrobatics in a hammock-like apparatus). Aside from the great fun I’ve had hanging upside down, the progression that I’ve made in six months is amazing – not because I am actually that good at it! But because the stretching and small, progressive steps that are taken as you move through the class makes regular improvement possible. What I am able to do today, I could never have dreamed I could do when I did my first class.

This can apply to us in business as well. Let’s use reading emails as an example. Many experts say that it is better for productivity to read emails only a few times a day. If you are someone who looks at your mail program every time you hear the ‘ping’ of new mail, this might be a really hard habit to break! So rather than turn your notifications off altogether, you could decide that from 10am to 11am, you will close your email program. Each day, you can add one or two more times during the day where you are not responding to emails immediately. Eventually, you may be able to change your email program settings so that you don’t receive notifications for new mail, and schedule ‘email time’ for a few 15 minute periods throughout the day.

Be assured that regular, habitual and purposeful changes, no matter how small, will eventually result in big changes.

 


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

 

 

Continue reading
  3524 Hits
3524 Hits

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

 

Continue reading
  3869 Hits
3869 Hits

Is serving a core value of your business?

My husband is a school teacher and was telling me recently that one of the core values they try to instil in the students at his school is serving others. The logic behind this is they believe no matter what profession or circumstance the students find themselves later in life, they will be required to serve others.

In business we often talk about customer service. And I’ve written about it often enough in this column so that if you’re a regular reader you will most likely agree that great customer service is essential to business success! But I wonder if sometimes we segment ‘customer service’ into its own category and fail to see ‘service’ (or serving others) as something that infiltrates every aspect?

If every task we undertake and every interaction we have, is done with an attitude of serving, what would that look like? Perhaps rather than approaching a task that we need to do for a client as boring and mundane, we view it as serving that person: how differently would we complete that task? If all your employees viewed their job descriptions as an opportunity to serve both their employer and customers, you are likely to witness a great improvement in morale and performance.

The key to serving is to complete a task or action without expectation of something in return. Now of course, as business owners, our goals will include monetary benefits, otherwise we are running a charity. So there is an underlying requirement that what we do will conclude with payment of some sort! But our attitude towards the tasks we do and the way we conduct ourselves with clients, can either be focused on ‘what do I get out of it?’ or ‘how can I do this better for you?’

By focusing on ‘how can I do this better for you?’, your business will ultimately be much more attractive to prospective clients and will provide you with long term customers who want to stick around for more. As Martin Luther King Jr. said “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve”.

 


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

 

 

Continue reading
  3431 Hits
3431 Hits

The Happiness Secret

b2ap3_thumbnail_woman_happy_web.jpgA recent article I wrote left you with the thought: “Imagine if we put the same effort into imagining positive outcomes and dreaming up solutions to negative situations”. In a nutshell, I was talking about creating happiness and a positive environment for you and your staff.

So how do we create happiness in our business?

Most ‘happiness experts’ will tell you that the first step is to be grateful. Look for aspects of your business, your circumstances and your prospects that you can be grateful for. Make a point of listing at least three things and add to this list regularly. If you have staff, ask them to do the same exercise once a week, so that the focus is not on fear, worry, anger or other negative emotions.

But of course, this isn’t enough! It also takes action. And one of the best ways to do this is to give. There is now research confirming that acts of altruism and generosity actually change the brain, increasing our peace, happiness, health and even intelligence. In the context of your business, this might be achieved by giving great customer service that is beyond expectations, or taking the time to assist a colleague without expecting anything in return. Or it might be donating your time, money or resources to a local charity. Doing any of these acts of giving fills you with a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

And finally, if you want to be happy, start pretending to be happy. This might sound like strange advice! But have you ever tried genuinely smiling and being angry at the same time? Your physical state influences your emotional state and vice versa, and being mindful and purposeful about ‘being happy’ actually causes you to be just that!

Enacting these three steps regularly and authentically will alter your happiness levels and teach you that happiness is a choice. Life and business will still have its ups and downs, but ‘practicing happiness’ will lead to happiness being your default state.


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

 

Continue reading
  3848 Hits
3848 Hits

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

 

Continue reading
  3769 Hits
3769 Hits

It’s the Little Things That Count

b2ap3_thumbnail_giving_crop.jpgLast week I received a call from a lovely gentleman who wanted to tell me how much he appreciated my article from last week, and how ‘spot on’ he thought it was. He spent a few minutes sharing his story and encouraging me in my pursuits as well.

I shared this occurrence on my personal Facebook page, and one of my friends responded with “So lovely! For someone to go out of their way to encourage another is a challenge for all of us to do it more!”. She, and the gentleman who called me, are exactly right.

It is amazing what simple, seemingly ‘little things’ can do for your business. I have had a few clients say to me recently “I tell everyone that you always reply quickly to emails”, because it impresses them that I do so as a matter of course.

Going out of our way to encourage, thank or assist people is something every business can do. However, let me state clearly: if your only motivation for doing something ‘nice’ for clients and colleagues is because of the benefits you expect to receive, think again! While you can integrate these things into your processes (and while they may benefit your business), unless it comes from a genuine motivation they are not likely to respond positively. That is, they will see through the charade!

An example of a gesture that I think is questionable is the ‘personalised’ birthday card from a large corporation, who you know has no personal contact with you, they simply have your birth date and name on file. Do you hang those birthday cards alongside the ones from family and friends? Probably not! Whereas a handwritten card from someone you deal with directly on a regular basis is much more likely to be taken for what it is: a genuine gesture. So any small business operators reading this, take advantage of your ‘smallness’ and do the little things that big business cannot do.




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

 

Continue reading
  3330 Hits
3330 Hits

They Said You’d Never Make It

b2ap3_thumbnail_Girl-with-Megaphone_sml.jpgWhen I was nineteen years old, I told my parents I was going to travel overseas by myself. They laughed a little and said “no you’re not”. Their lack of agreement with my plans came not from thinking I wouldn’t have the confidence to do it, but because I had no job and no savings at the time. As parents should, they were looking at the practical aspects of my plan and concluded that it wasn’t feasible.

But this just made me more determined to find a job and save every cent. I managed to get there via some creative means (and borrowing the final portion from my parents!) and credit my three months travelling solo with building maturity, tenacity and resourcefulness.

When I started my business, there were similar naysayers about the longevity of my business plans. It was either viewed as a hobby or wouldn’t last beyond a few years. Some of these opinions were innocent and uninformed (not intended to belittle me, but just stating the ‘facts’ as they saw them), while others (from potential competitors) were a little more sinister in purpose. Regardless, I took all these comments as fuel to prove them all wrong – and ten years later I think I have!

Remember Jessica Watson, the Australian woman who at age sixteen sailed solo around the world? Although Australia now claims her as a great success story, many criticisms were aimed at Jessica, and even more so at her parents for letting their daughter do something so risky.

I imagine that while some of the comments hurt, they also spurred her on to prove them wrong. But more importantly, Jessica had her own intrinsic reasons and motivation for undertaking the journey. She stated that “I wanted to challenge myself and achieve something to be proud of. And yes, I wanted to inspire people. I hated being judged by my appearance and other people's expectations of what a 'little girl' was capable of.”

So ignore those who say ‘You’ll never make it”. Remember why you started your business, and listen to your own voice rather than any negative ones around you.
 


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

 

Continue reading
  3391 Hits
3391 Hits

Common Courtesy

b2ap3_thumbnail_opening_door_web.jpgEvery now and again a story will pop up on social media or television, asking ‘is chivalry dead?’. Generally when we think of chivalry, we think of men opening doors for women and other acts of polite behaviour towards the opposite sex. Although as a woman I appreciate if a man holds open a door for me, I don’t have an expectation that it should happen. On the other hand, I think common courtesies should transcend gender: that is, if I have an opportunity to show courtesy or give assistance to anyone, male or female, I should.

It is interesting how not everyone thinks this way! A few years ago I was moving some heavy items from one location to another. Someone I knew walked alongside me as I did this, chatting away to me with coffee in hand. At the time I thought that maybe he was just a little distracted and didn’t think to ask if I needed assistance. But that incident has stuck with me as an example of how as a society we seem to have lost common courtesies as a normal part of our interactions.

Sadly this has translated into business as well. I often see friends remarking on social media about their complete surprise at having dealt with someone at a large company who was helpful and gave them the answers they needed. In contrast, most of us seem to be met with people whose only goal is to ‘tick the boxes’ and get to the next customer. Customer service is increasingly being viewed as a lost art and in some industries, we almost expect to receive poor customer service, such is our past experience.

For those of us in small business, practicing common courtesy can give us a huge advantage. We all appreciate when someone goes the extra mile or even simply provides ‘service with a smile’. So think about ways that you can show your customers you care. They will in turn become your biggest advocates and will spread the word about what a pleasure it is to deal with you.

 

 


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

 

Continue reading
  3692 Hits
3692 Hits

Are you spreading your business too thin?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Woman_exhausted_web.jpgI am sure you have heard from business experts that your business should be adaptable and versatile. If those experts are referring to being able to quickly evolve to meet changing needs in your industry, then this is good advice to heed. But there are some of us who interpret this as needing to provide a diverse range of products or services in order to gain enough customers.

For example, when I started my graphic design business, there was almost no type of print design work that I would reject. I was doing everything from business cards to wedding invitations and my marketing materials covered pretty much everything I could think of! But I soon found that by narrowing my niche, I gained more clients.

Think about how you seek expertise: if you are looking for an accountant for your business, you are more likely to retain a firm that specialises in small business, than one that focusses on tax for individuals. Or if you were looking for someone to make a wedding cake, you are unlikely to choose someone who creates children’s cakes. You want the experience that comes with the understanding of a specific product or service.

So how do you work out what to focus on in your business? One way to help this decision is to choose the areas that you most like to work on. You are going to be much more motivated to improve your skills and become the best at what you do if it is something you actually like doing! The passion you have for your niche will be evident to clients via the way you promote and the manner in which you engage with them about the product or service. You should combine this with researching the needs of your clients, to find out what they may need. You will begin to establish yourself as an expert, and are likely to find that people are happy to pay more because they know they are getting quality results.

 


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

Continue reading
  3706 Hits
3706 Hits

Are you a ‘woe is me’ kind of gal?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Woman_Stop_sml.jpgThere seems to be quite a few people I come across who cannot help but view life as ‘hard’, and they bring this view with them into their businesses. I am not referring to people with genuine hardship, or serious health issues or any number of difficult circumstances. I am referring to people who generally expect the worst from the world and view any positive as a stroke of luck.

I am going to let those people in on a secret: if you expect the worst, you are more likely to get it! Not because there is something or someone out to ‘get you’, but because you will be too busy wallowing in your own negativity to see opportunities when they come to you.

And here is the second part of the secret: people who seem to always come across great opportunities are not sitting back waiting for them to arrive. They are actively looking for opportunities, and in fact, probably have a hand in making those opportunities arise.

We all have days where we would rather stay curled up in bed because the thought of facing obstacles or continuing to push through hard times is too much to deal with. But allowing yourself to stay in a place of negativity and letting ‘what ifs’ to fill your head instead of ‘why nots’ is a sure fire recipe for business failure.

As women, we tend to be worriers: many of us spend a lot more time than men worrying about what might happen. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have found that eighty-five percent (85%) of what we worry about doesn’t happen. How astounding is that! We get stressed and tired over things that haven’t happened and aren’t even likely to happen. As John Lubbock said “A day of worry is more exhausting that a week of work”. Imagine if we put that same effort into imagining positive outcomes and dreaming up solutions to negative situations.

 

 


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

Continue reading
  3378 Hits
3378 Hits

Decisions, Decisions

b2ap3_thumbnail_Decisions_sml.jpgMaking decisions for your future can be really difficult, can’t it? When it involves a degree of risk, a substantial amount of finances and/or the possibility of failure, it can be hard to make a decision.

Much of the angst around decision-making is because we want to make the ‘right’ decision. We want to make sure we ‘cover all bases’ and have answers for every possibility to reduce the risk of failure.

But have you considered that perhaps there isn’t always one right decision? Quite often, there could be a number of directions to head, and more than one of them will be the ‘right’ thing to do. Sometimes, it may be that a decision you made ended badly, but the lessons you learnt from it, and the direction you took because of it, resulted in a much better outcome than your original idea. Often it comes down to taking action: indecision can be more crippling than a ‘bad’ decision.

A tried and true method for decision making is to list the pros and cons of your decision: what will I gain if I do this? What will I lose if I don’t do this? When you have done this, ask a trusted person to read your list. There is a high likelihood that they will look at some of the disadvantages you have listed and challenge you about them. Often what seems like a big deal to us, is not so big when viewed in a wider context.

If some of the items on your ‘cons’ list are related to fear of the unknown, you need to cross those ones off immediately! Letting fear dictate your decisions will result in inertia or poor decision making. Talk to the people who can give you all the practical information you need (for example, your accountant) and then weigh up your options. Listen to your gut instinct: it has gotten you this far in business and it will take you further again!

 


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

Continue reading
  3427 Hits
3427 Hits

Over Achievers Anonymous

b2ap3_thumbnail_GirlGradCap_sml.jpgMost women in business are high achievers – or over achievers depending on how you want to frame it! Frankly, if you don’t fall into this definition, then you’re unlikely to be in business long term. So it’s a good thing, right? That internal motivation that drives you to build something or that determination to see an idea take fruit and succeed: they are positive traits to have and not to be taken for granted. Your business would not be where it is today without that.

That same drive and determination can also mean that you involve yourself in many activities. You are more likely to be the person that is asked to coordinate or kick start something, because people have learnt that you are someone who ‘gets things done’. And you enjoy doing those things!

I recently took stock of how many ‘hats’ I was wearing. Over the past few years I had gradually added different responsibilities and tasks to my non-business time. In addition, I was juggling two very different companies and trying to put in 100% effort and commitment to both. All of the areas I was involved in were not ‘chores’ – I had gladly volunteered and committed to undertake them.

Most high achievers are also perfectionists! So I was becoming quite unhappy and stressed when I wasn’t able to complete tasks to the standard I know I am capable of. And the many late nights I found myself working on both business and non-business activities were having a detrimental effect on all areas of my life. I made the decision to start reducing the number of commitments I had, and started to say ‘no’ to new offers, despite how tempting and enjoyable they could have been!

This quote from Barbara de Angelis is pertinent: Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away. If all our time is spent ‘doing’, the balance in our lives will shift, and we will end up burnt out. Take stock, work out your priorities and take action to bring more balance and a healthy business (and personal) life.

 


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

Continue reading
  3533 Hits
3533 Hits

Seeing the Forest Despite the Trees

b2ap3_thumbnail_Forest_sml.jpgMost of us started our business with a vision. Most of us who have continued in business have done so because we have the personality type to dream big and reimagine that original vision. Do you realise that this is a valuable trait to have? And how few people have it?

In recent discussions with a variety of people, I have been reminded of how often people bemoan their situations but aren’t willing to do anything to change it. Or how some people have the ‘vision’ but aren’t prepared to take the risk or the leap of faith to make it a reality.

Most people spend their time worrying about what might be lost in the process of change, rather than what might be gained.

Others are waiting for the perfect solution to come along before they will change direction, and are content to use outdated methods or processes while they search. Although this can feel like the ‘responsible’ action to take, it generally ends up costing organisations a great deal of time and money, not to mention the effect on staff morale.

Every business has obstacles (i.e. the trees) that can make the forest (i.e. the vision) difficult to see. There is no point pretending the ‘trees’ aren’t there – if there are problems, they need to be addressed. But the key to a successful business is to acknowledge the areas that need to be overcome, without losing sight of the bigger picture.

Jack Welch, former CEO of GE Electric put it this way: “You've got to eat while you dream. You've got to deliver on short-range commitments, while you develop a long-range strategy and vision and implement it. The success of doing both. Walking and chewing gum if you will. Getting it done in the short-range, and delivering a long-range plan, and executing on that.”

So keep looking up at the forest! Don’t get bogged down in the short-term tasks or the obstacles. Remind yourself of your vision and take bold steps to make it happen.

 


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

Continue reading
  3090 Hits
3090 Hits

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.
Mon-Thurs 9am-4pm
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

Facebook Insta