Unlocking the potential of female entrepreneurs with a new ‘self-assessment’ kit

Despite a dramatic increase in the number of women starting a business in the UK, women here are still lagging behind other more mature entrepreneurial communities. Women in the US are still twice as likely to start a business as British women.

MP Lorely Burt’s recent report Inclusive Support for Women in Enterprise, concluded that if support meted out by Government Departments and local authorities were ‘inclusive’, it could lift Britain’s GDP by 10 per cent by 2030.

Gender gap

According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of self-employed women has increased by 34% since 2009. By comparison over the past five years the number of self-employed men has risen by just 15%.

Enterprise Nation’s Home Business Report 2014, found that of the 2.9m homepreneurs in the UK, 64 per cent of them were women – equating to around 1.7m women running businesses from home, contributing an estimated £180bn to the British economy alone.

So why are they still not reaching their potential?

Studies show that the problem around women starting is not ability or commitment – more that they are likely to find it more difficult than men to obtain finance, they also have a lack of awareness of the support available – as well as that level of self-belief that often propels men towards higher growth.

Self assessment kit

A new Government-funded Skills Assessment Kit (launched last week) works on the basis that women have exactly the same ability as men to start-up, and through gentle questioning, identifies gaps, and suggests an individual training and advice programme to address these issues and unlock female potential.

This in turn will help in time to dispel the myth that to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to display the qualities of a classic risk-taker stereotype. The hope is that it will lead to a world where being steady, careful and competent is also a key predictor of entrepreneurial success.

The Self Assessment Toolkit is designed to help women-led firms reach their potential by identifying gaps in knowledge, experience and confidence, and offering practical help to take their business to the next level.

It has been developed by small business network Enterprise Nation in conjunction with psychology experts and moderated through focus groups and early-stage trials conducted with female entrepreneurs.

Practical help

Open to both men and women, although concentrating its efforts to attract and help more female users, the kit teases out niggles and worries through subtle questioning, analysing the answers to build a picture of strengths and weaknesses and outlining a programme of support. It will even supply contacts and offer introductions to relevant accredited experts via the Enterprise Nation Marketplace.

The marketplace lists more than 11,000 experts and business coaches all over the UK including Northern Ireland and Scotland, who can offer advice on marketing, leadership, building a team, digital know-how or finance.

Hosted by small business network Enterprise Nation, it is hoped the new free-to-use kit, which comprises a questionnaire and produces a bespoke training programme, will also encourage more women to consider entrepreneurship as a career path.

To take the test, go to follow the link here.

How to succeed in tech – top tips from 6 female founders

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke to some of the women taking the UK tech scene by storm. These women are heading up some of the biggest technology companies in London, running extremely successful websites that help female entrepreneurs to network, and are founding some of the most successful up and coming start-ups in the UK.

We got in touch to find out what their secret to success is and discovered they all have one thing in common; these women will never put a limit on what they believe they can achieve in life and they are all absolutely fearless!

Be fearless!

“I am often quoted as being fearless, with the ability to “move mountains.” Success is defined by not being afraid to look at every situation and – to “#OwnIt” … When we are at peace with our abilities, anything is possible.”

Jennifer Arcuri, Founder of InnoTech Summit

Understand the sector

“Business success is driven by the execution of great products that match clients’ needs, and the ability to scale a business model. It has nothing to do with gender, so women can succeed similarly to men. They just have to understand the sector, start projects and work with both men and women, with no preconceived ideas.”

Nathalie Gaveau, Founder of Shopcade and PriceMinister

Live the life you want

“A woman succeeds in a sector dominated by men, by focusing on her own definition of success and achieving that, and not giving a damn what anyone else thinks. My definition of success is living the life you want and doing the work you want to do, in a way that creates and leaves lasting benefit in the world, and makes a lot of money in the process. I emphasize that last part, because we don’t get taken seriously as women, until we get taken seriously financially. I believe the future of business is doing good and making money simultaneously, and I’m out to do that with both my startups, IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn.”

Cindy Gallop, Founder of MakeLoveNotPorn and IfWeRanTheWorld

Channel your inner confidence

“Don’t focus on it being a male-dominated industry. Channel your inner confidence (even if it feels like you’re faking it sometimes!) You’ll find success by doing what you do best and just getting on with it. Success is following your passion and finding happiness in how you spend your life.”

Lora Schellenberg, Managing Director of Girls in Tech

Inspire others

“I never saw my gender as a barrier early on in my career, however as my career progressed I became acutely aware that there were less and less women around me. The numbers of female CTO’s and CIO’s has improved, however there needs to be an equal representation of both men and women at the top of our industries. I truly believe that women who hold senior technology roles have a responsibility to inspire other females technologists to pursue their true potential, be it mentoring, sponsoring or just sharing stories about their career paths.

In terms of success, everyones definition is different and mine changes daily. Sometimes my definition of success is merely to clear my inbox!”

Vanessa Vallely, Founder of ‘WeAreTheCity’

Be determined

“I think the easiest way to success is to be determined to succeed. I think that women hear ‘no’ more regularly than their male counterparts in this industry, however my choice is not to focus my time and energy on those that say ‘no’. I’d much rather keep searching for and focussing energy on those who are willing and able to say yes.

Success is relative to the person with a goal in mind. My vision is to give every child an equal opportunity to be successful using superhero characters and the technology we have at our disposal. Ultimate success will be seeing that vision become a reality. That said, I celebrate the steps I take in getting there – from the email from a parent saying my app has made a difference in their home, to winning an award, to a feature on the news or in a blog post like this. It’s a privilege to be able to do what I love to do, help others and make a change to the society we live in.”

Erika Brodnock, Founder of Karisma Kidz

Are you a woman trying to carve out your niche in tech? Let us know in the comments below…

Photo credit: deathtothestockphoto.com

Are you our next Business Club Leader?

Thank you so much for your interest in finding out more about being a Women Unlimited Business Club leader.   The video above is from our Thrive Conference and features Claire Portis, our Hampstead Club Leader and she shares what it means to be a club leader for her.

What is the Women Unlimited Business Club?

It combines the power of networking with useful targeted training that helps our members build and grow their business.

Running a business can be challenging, particularly if you are doing it by yourself.  And it’s very easy to get stuck in your own head.  At the Business Club we offer training and brainstorming that  really helps to shift business owners out of that stuck place.

The training is built around the three pillars of a successful business: Marketing, Strategy and Personal Effectiveness.  Through continuity, accountability, training and brainstorming, delivered both online and face to face, the women that join our community learn new skills and strategies that will help them to be more confident and successful in their businesses.

How much does it cost to become a business club leader?

This is not a franchise.  We are not going to ask you to invest to be one of our  club leaders, but if you are selected, we will ask for a deposit to cover the costs of investing in materials for your club and the training that we invest in you – but this is fully refunded the month after your club launches.

In fact… we pay you!

As a business club leader you are not likely to be doing this for the money, but we want to acknowledge the time and effort that you put in.  You’ll find out more at the discovery day, but suffice it to say, we are happy to share the profits from your business club meetings with you.

Does this sound like you?

  1. You are coach or a trainer
  2. You are passionate about business and really want to help others to achieve their full potential
  3. You are energetic and persistent and grab life with both hands
  4. You love connecting with other people and are a great networker
  5. You have a large network already in your area
  6. Excellence is a key driver for you
  7. You are not afraid to try things out and embrace learning from your mistakes
  8. You are ethical and full of integrity in your life and do what you say you are going to do
  9. You believe that simple and done always beats complex and unfinished
  10. Women who are ready to take on a challenge and become a role model in their community and help others to achieve their dream business.

Where we are looking to open up the next round of business clubs…

We are hoping to open up our next round of clubs in September / October – so if you are interested in becoming a local leader in your community please come along to one of our discovery day sessions that we are holding across the UK in April and early May.

Please note we already have clubs in the following areas:

Yorkshire: Goole and Harrogate

London: Stratford, Wimbledon, Enfield, Wandsworth, Lambeth, Hampstead, Croydon

South East: Milton Keynes, St. Albans, Hastings

And we would love to launch one in your area.

Some of the towns/cities that we are particularly interested in are: Brighton, Guildford, Southhampton, Portsmouth, Exeter, Bristol, Bath, Cheltenham, Cardiff, Birmingham, Norwich, Northampton, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, York, Central London and West London but don’t think if your area isn’t on this list that we don’t want to hear from you – we do! If you feel that the women in your local area would benefit from having a business club near them, then please come along to one of the discovery days near you.

Where would you like to open a club?

At the moment we are still focusing on the UK –  I know that some of you would be interested in launching a club in your country, unfortunately we just don’t have the capacity for this at the moment but come next year we will definitely be looking further afield.

WU Business Club Discovery Day Events:

Please email hello@womenunlimitedworldwide.com, with the words Club leader recruitment in the subject and tell us a little bit about yourself and we will be in touch shortly.

Some thoughts from previous business club attendees

“The business club offers a rare opportunity to speak openly and honestly about your business. It’s great to be a member of a group of business woman who really “get it” I have made some excellent contacts at the club, but even more importantly, business friends and allies.  Felix Macintosh, Tigersonic

“I get so much from every single business club meeting I attend. Not only do I get to meet with likeminded women business owners, aiming to take their businesses up a level, I also get support, advice and the opportunity to develop my business through in-put from the business-wise and very knowledgeable Julie Hall. What a woman! What a club!” Claudia Crawley, Winning Pathways Coaching

““The Women Unlimited Business Club provides an extra dimension to business. You also get to learn about practical tools and strategies for your business development. The combination of input, interaction and supportive challenge is both motivating and inspiring”.”Sue Oliver

“Thank you for organising such amazingly helpful sessions through the Business Club. It is extremely valuable and unique to be able to pool our knowledge and work together to help both ourselves and other peoples businesses. It is providing the fresh approach and constructive criticism that we lack when we are working on our own in our small businesses. It is also incredibly informative and great fun. ” Emma Hammett, First Aid for Life

 

Your Stories: Magical You

Today we hear from Catherine Tapponnier, the owner or Magical You. Since March 2011 Catherine has been giving women the tools and information to help them organise and simplify their lives.

Her aim is to support women to free up time and energy for them to enjoy more of the things they are passionate about.

1. What drove you to start your own business?  What was the turning point? 

I co-authored and edited a self-help book for sufferers of ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that I also suffered from, for almost 10 years. Through it I found my passion for writing. At the same time, I also realised that I organise and handle the practicalities of my life in a way that lots of women I know, don’t. I began by starting to write about the things I do to organise my life. Then I thought about the fact that as women we like to talk and so my information could be best shared through small workshop style groups or individual 1 to 1 sessions with women. That was the point I decided to set up my business.

2. Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?

I admire Richard Branson who has succeeded in a diverse range of businesses and at the same time ensures he lives life to the full. I also admire his willingness to speak out about what he believes in.

3. What are your goals for your business?

I would like to have Magical You workshop groups and 1 to 1 sessions available to women all over the country. I’m also working to offer an online place where women can access my information and share in a community. My grandmother told me about the support and fun she shared with women in her local community through getting togethe,r or simply chatting over the garden fence. I think that much of that has been lost. I have a vision to create places for women to come together and grow from each other, as well as from the information I have to share.

4. What would you do differently next time around?

I would spend more time and money at the start of my business on getting my message out through networking groups and local publications rather than buying lots of stationary and printed information that I still have boxes of.

5. What difficulties and challenges have you had to overcome and how did you keep going?

The biggest challenge I experience is working on my own, doing something that will only happen if I put in the time and energy to make it happen. Through connecting with other women who have their own businesses, I have found that old adage of a trouble shared is a trouble halved is true; of course it doesn’t have to be a trouble. It can be just talking something over and getting clear on it. Also my husband has run his own business for many years and he supports me to just get on and have a go without worrying and imagining all the things that I’m scared might not go right. He supports me and encourages me to believe in myself.

6. What legacy would you like your business to leave to the world and your family/friends?

I would like my business to have created a place for women to come together and get tangible benefits from the information I have to share and also for women to benefit from being part of the Magical You community.

7. What support did you seek out and what difference has that made to your business?

I wanted a strong brand and identity for my business that reflects me and what I’m about. I found Graham Foster at Foster Creativity who I worked with to come up with my business name, logo and brand that are centred round Alice in Wonderland images. I’m passionate about living life to the full and enjoying every moment and Alice in Wonderland is all about going down the rabbit hole and discovering the magic that’s there.

8. How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?

I have definite plans through to the end of this year and over the first half of next year and also an outline and on going strategy. I’m motivated by growing Magical You into the future and beyond.

9. What has been one big success that you have achieved in your business?

One lady I worked with was so in fear of her finances that she didn’t open her bank statements when they arrived in the post. She was scared of what they would tell her. After completing my money workshop she went away with a strategy and practical tools for managing her money each month. The unknown and fear of what her bank statements would contain was gone, meaning she felt confident to open them. It may seem like one small success but, to that lady, it was life changing.

10. What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business?

To trust myself and, at the same time, be willing to make mistakes, learn from them and move on.

11. What are your top 3 tips for someone who would like to start a business now?

First, I would tell them to just go for it and do it and at the same time to not to expect to have all the answers and for every thing to work perfectly right from the start. Second, I would tell them to constantly test ideas before over committing their time and money to them. Third, I would tell them to be open to feedback, support and information from other people whilst trusting their own instincts about any advice before acting upon it.

12. What are 3 books, websites or resources that you would recommend to other business owners?

The E-Myth by Michael Gerber.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattle.

 

Toxic culture killing our female workforce

Culture and values clash is the main reason women quit corporate life!

Two thirds of those earning less, say they would not return even for more money…

Starting up my new venture, targeted at women who have left the corporate world to set up their own business, I decided to conduct research to discover more about this niche.

Why would someone leave the perceived security of a corporate job with a regular pay check, benefits and comradeship to step into the uncertain world of business ownership, especially in these troubled economic times?

The results of the survey of 300 women entrepreneurs, shows that the main reason they leave corporate jobs is that they are frustrated with the toxic culture; not with the glass ceiling as is widely believed. Almost a quarter of participants (23%) cite the culture and values clash as their main reason for leaving, while less than 1 per cent identify the glass ceiling.

Surprisingly, of the 68% of women who earn less than when they were in corporate employment, almost two thirds say they would not go back to corporate life even though they are unhappy with their current income level.
What is this toxic culture they are so desperate to leave?
The toxic culture is a combination of these elements that occur in business:

  • Politics
  • Poor leadership
  • Opaque decision making
  • Limited communication
  • Micromanagement
  • Values clash between the individual and the company

One survey participant commented, ‘There was a disconnect between my values and the corporate world’s values and another said, ‘I got tired of wasting time on political activity versus actually doing the job.’
At a certain stage in their lives, women realise that the traditional work in corporate environments doesn’t work for them any more. They are tired of putting up with the toxic culture and they start to disengage, valuing their time and autonomy above their salary and job. This is the catalyst for them to leave and set up their own enterprises. The women surveyed are not born entrepreneurs but rather women who stepped out of the corporate world for a career that would meet their needs on their terms.

Survey participant Trisha Proud of Partners in Solutions Ltd said,

After a hugely successful career I decided to leave and set up my own business because I was fed up and disappointed at people not ‘walking the talk’ when it came to managing people and truly honouring the values that they regularly spoke about, but didn’t necessarily live and breathe on a day-to-day basis. After six years of trading I have no regrets.

Even if they were offered more money to get a corporate job again, most of them would not accept, preferring control of their future, their time and their environment over the cash. As well as the 23% leaving because of the toxic culture, a further fifth (21%) of respondents left to gain more autonomy and control of their destiny.

When asked what they loved most about having their own business, 48% said they loved the freedom and flexibility. 30% cited the independence and being their own boss as their favourite element of having their own business. They have taken the bold steps to create an environment they love to work in and they take pleasure in being able to choose who they work with, or not. The sense of satisfaction and accomplishment shines through their responses as they realise that in many cases they have created their business from nothing.

Even though they love being self-employed, it isn’t always easy. The transition from employment can be challenging, with revenue and cash flow often erratic at the beginning. And in many cases they are unprepared for the sheer volume and variety of work encountered in running their own business. They may be very skilled in their area of business but it is the myriad of other demands on their time that they find challenging. Whether it is the legal approach, finances, IT or even managing their own diary, these are things that the women have traditionally relied on the large corporate framework to provide, and in many cases even taken for granted. There is no one at the end of their IT help line to fix the printer!

Transitioning from corporate to one’s own business can also be challenging at the level of identity. After many years of having a certain title, reliable salary, working for an esteemed company and perhaps having many staff, when this disappears it can be a shock. As suddenly, those external cues we used to judge our success and identified with are gone. The women then need to update their identity based on their values and refresh their criteria of success. In my experience, when women haven’t done this, they may view their entrepreneurial venture as a failure because they are still judging it on their old success criteria.

Even with all of the factors considered, most of the women I spoke to would not go back to corporate, even if they were paid more money. Once they have tasted the freedom, ignited their passion to make a difference and work on their terms, there is no going back to the toxic culture.

From Dream to Done: 3 Essential Ingredients

Have you ever had a dream? One that you keep somewhere in the back of your mind as something you’d love to do ‘someday’?

Someday is a safe place to hide dreams. Safe from the scrutiny of whether it’s doable, if you have what it takes, whether it would work. Safe from the pressures of having to justify or validate your dream, answering to questions of ‘how’, ‘when’, ‘where’ or even ‘why’.

Someday is where dreams are safe. Where everything is possible, but nothing ever gets done.

At the time of writing this, I’m about to launch my first book – one of my ‘someday’ dreams. It’s a huge achievement for me; something I’ve wanted to do since I was that quiet girl you’d find at the edge of the playground with her glasses buried in a book.

Something I’m also very proud of – and very relevant, given the title and topic of my book* – is the fact that I wrote it all in 40 days. Does that mean that I’m super organised, a fast writer or a hermit who can lock herself away for days on end? Far from it (although the latter does appeal occasionally!)

So how exactly does a naturally disorganised, busy business owner and mum of two write a book in 40 days whilst juggling children, clients and other commitments?

I’ve found it boils down to three essential ingredients. Let me share them with you.

Definition creates do-ability

Possibility is a wonderful thing. I love it. I thrive on possibility. But too much possibility can sometimes keep you stuck in that someday world where you have so many ideas, you don’t know where to start.

I’ve met some incredibly talented people, with wisdom, experience and insight that would be so helpful to others. People who say “I know I have a book in me” but are completely daunted by the prospect of trying to sift through their entirety and variety of what they know and condense it into one book.

The difference that gave me definition is that my book is part of a series of ’21 Ways’ books. The structure, style and length of the book was already defined. I had a very clear remit that helped me to whittle down ‘all the things I could possibly write about’ into 21 Ways to Manage the Stuff That Sucks Up Your Time.

That meant that I could start planning. Work out what goes in, and what stays out. What points I need to make, and how much I need to write.

Lack of definition can lead to overwhelm. When you don’t know what’s involved and where to start, it’s too big. Definition makes it more doable, gives boundaries and makes it easier to break down into baby steps.

 

Deadline makes it real

If you’ve ever had to work to a deadline, whether for a client, sales proposal, tax return, dissertation or job application, you’ll know that when a deadline is impending, it spurs action.

In fact, they say that the most productive day of the working calendar is the day before you go on holiday. Now there’s a deadline you wouldn’t want to move!

There’s nothing quite like a deadline to move something out of someday and into real days on the calendar. It sets the clock ticking. It creates urgency, makes it real.

My deadline came from my publisher. If it was up to me, I would have suggested at least a year or 18 months! But as much as it took my breath away, my 40 day deadline got my mind working and wondering, “How could I do that?” It’s often the outrageous deadlines that get us to challenge our own limiting beliefs and discover more of what we are really capable of.

What’s more, I made my deadline public. I’ve found nothing quite like public accountability to make sure I get things done. So when my publisher later said that she could be flexible on the deadline, I replied “well that’s great, but I can’t because I’ve made it public already!”

 

Demand gives purpose

Demand is what makes businesses work. If you’ve been meaning to do something, demand takes you out of dream mode and into delivery mode.

A new business could spend months designing and developing a business plan, a price list and a website, but if a potential customer came along and asked them to quote for a job, they’d probably get their offerings finalised pretty pronto!

The fact that a publisher wanted me to write this meant that it wasn’t just my bright idea. Someone else wanted me to do this. Someone else was willing to invest time, energy and money into this. When you realise that your dream isn’t just about you – when there are others who want what you have to give, other people who stand to benefit from it, people who are expecting you to deliver – your purpose gets a whole lot bigger.

But my journey didn’t start with that kind of demand. If I started out thinking “I know, I’ll write a book on time management” I probably would have been completely overwhelmed, paralysed and out of my depth. I’d probably still be waiting for an opportunity to come along.

Instead I’ve focused on taking action, serving my customers and meeting their demands and needs with what I could give.

Two things happen when you take action in the here and now, rather than waiting for opportunity to knock: you get to know what’s wanted; and you get to know what you bring to the table.

 

As I worked with my clients, busy people juggling business, family and more, I discovered that their biggest question was “How do I fit everything in when I don’t have enough time?” Answering that question is what got me here.

By the time this book opportunity appeared, in a casual comment on Facebook, I was ready and well placed to go for it. Out of various people who saw it as a good idea, I believe I was the only one to actually pursue the opportunity and submit a proposal.

Which makes me wonder, how many opportunities are already there in front of us, every day, which we just don’t notice for what they are? What if we actually have many more opportunities than we think?

Something happens when you stop waiting for things to happen. When you start taking action right where you are, with what you have in your hand, right now. You start building and planting seeds. When those seeds start bearing fruit, you recognise them. You recognise opportunities for what they are.

 

So, what’s your dream? What would give it more definition and do-ability? What demand can you start acting on, right here and now? And what deadlines are you going to set, to start moving it from ‘someday’ into today?

Let me know in the comments box below – I’d love to hear from you!

 

* 21 Ways to Manage the Stuff That Sucks Up Your Time launches in August, available on Amazon with special launch day bonuses and celebrations at http://grace-marshall.com/21ways/

Want More Visibility? Go Create the News!

With 15,000 new UK businesses registering every month*, you definitely want to stand out and be visible to your target audience.
One thing you do not want is to belong to the “Broke and Best Kept Secret” crowd!
So what’s a savvy woman business owner to do?
I say, take charge of your own visibility. Do not wait to be in the news; create the news, just like celebrities do!

Now, I’m not talking about feats such as Janet Jackson’s wardrobe mishap or Tom Cruise’s sofa jumping! These are the not-so-tasteful variety of visibility.

What you want is to stay top of mind in a positive, inspirational way.

You want to draw your target audience to you and give them hope that their aspirations can come true. And then point them to your solutions for this purpose.

Please note that I do not write here about the Hollywood kind of visibility. So there is no need to envision being hounded by paparazzi and autograph-seeking mobs! Rather, I am highlighting the need to be seen by those who need our services, to stand out from the competition and be memorable, even if this is just in your local community of prospects.

So, if you are looking to ramp up your business visibility, here are 5 sure fire ways to get results:

 

1. Buzz for your Biz!

Is something newsworthy happening in your business? Don’t keep it to yourself; tell the media!
Things to tell include: winning/being nominated for an award; publishing a book; holding free public workshops; reaching mile stones e.g. 10 years in business, 100th customer, second outlet etc; collaborating with/sharing the stage with/interviewing or being interviewed by a celebrity; being patronized by celebrities; being the first, youngest, newest, smallest etc.
Tie your news to something that is already trending and the public will want to hear it.
For instance, a career coach running a workshop showing how you helped 3 long term unemployed people get a job in a recession. Or chronicling your achievements and mile stones as a woman-owned business around International Women’s Day.

 

2. Build Your Platform, Then Lift Off!

Do you have a point of view, unique idea, reaction to current event or a proprietary system for solving a common problem? Are you great at spotting trends? Do your predictions come true? Could these intellectual assets add value to the world? Then start to build your platform as a thought leader and get your message out to the world. Not only will you create buzz and enhance your visibility, you will also be rendering a needed service with your contributions. So, do not fear that you are “self-promoting.” You are simply sowing and reaping!

How could you get started building your platform? Develop a signature talk on your area of expertise and offer to speak to any relevant audiences such as your Chamber of Commerce, industry events, in public libraries etc. Do not despise the days of small beginnings and work your way up to bigger audiences. While you are at it, write a report on your area of expertise or better still, a book. Then let your local media know by sending out press releases. This will open up doors to more talks, speeches and appearances and you will steadily gain visibility.

 

3. Collab with a Celeb!

Collaboration is the new competition. If you are interested in making a difference through the work you do, you will realize that you cannot make your difference single-handedly. It will take the help of other like-passioned people to make a significant impact, whatever this may mean for you. So, get used to collaboration!
Now, with this established, think, who are the A-listers in your industry and community that you could partner with to deliver great value to your common target audience?
Get introduced to them; become acquainted with them; propose collaborations with them; collaborate with them! And by association, you gain credibility and visibility. Just in case your inner critic is starting to call this “self-promotion for selfish gain,” let me remind you that your aims are primarily to add value and to make a difference. And in case you have not noticed, visibility and reward are the natural outcomes of adding great value. You have simply learned to use this to your advantage!

 

4. Report Real Time Happenings:

Have you heard of the service called Help a Reporter Out or HARO? It is a platform where people who have news make themselves available so that those who create the news i.e. journalists and reporters, can access it through them. There are other similar platforms such as networking groups who provide the media access to their members (with consent) for the sake of garnering news from them. If you can build relationships with journalists who cover your area of expertise, you can become an asset to them by reporting real time happenings in your industry. Which then make their way into the news, with a quote from you or in the form of media interviews!

 

5. Solve a Pressing Problem:

Look around you and pick a pressing problem that plagues your target audience. Then offer a solution to a small focus group.
If it is feasible, give your solution away for free, such as a public workshop, free demonstration or an advice clinic.
Again, keep the media informed of your activities, with testimonials from those you have helped. This tags you as not just an expert but also one who is relevant and actively contributing to the community, the kind of person that people want to do business with!

 

You might by now be wondering, is there room for all of us in the news? Yes, if you operate in a sharply defined niche and build your own unique platform. There is enough space for anyone doing something different, unique or interesting. I know this by the number of media requests crossing my desk every week from my various networks. Journalists are always looking to create news and the public is forever ready to consume it. Just make sure that it is YOUR news your audience is reading and you will not need to worry about the ever growing competition!

 

*Source: http://www.business2012.com/

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Oma Edoja is an author, speaker and Women’s Business Growth Mentor who is passionate about empowering women! She is the UK’s go-to-gal for ambitious women entrepreneurs who want to get more clients, make more money and make a bigger impact on the people they serve. Oma is the author of “The Essential Get Clients Guide: 14 Reasons Women Business Owners Struggle to Get Clients and How to Avoid Them.” She invites you to download your FREE copy at www.TheEssentialGetClientsGuide.com

 

Get Stuck In: Maximum Engagement with your Website Visitors

If you have a savvy web designer you will hopefully be leveraging your search engine optimisation strategies to get your site found. But too many business owners drop the ball at that point and fail to make the most of the golden opportunity they have once visitors actually arrive at the site.

What your website does.

A lot of website owners get confused about what a website is for. To cut it back to its bare bones, your website is there to create 3 outcomes

  • You want to create engagement with your reader
  • You want to create qualified leads for your business via the opt-in
  • You want to create sales

What most people never realise is that creating engagement with your reader is the lynch pin of that list – because without it you’ll never get to the next two steps of creating leads and then sales.

There are some key strategies you can use to make sure you’re creating engagement with your website visitors:

Create a sticky site!

The best way to create engagement with your website visitor is to firstly to always provide great content! Give them a reason to stay.

This has the bonus of creating a “sticky” site. This simply means that someone will stay on your site for a longer browsing, and enjoying the content. The advantages of this are two-fold : you’re starting to connect and create a fan, and you’re reducing your bounce rate (how quickly someone leaves your site) which is important for your search engine rankings.

You can increase your site’s stickiness by smart use of internal linking between your pages and blogposts. For example, if you’ve put up a blogpost and something in your content refers to something you’ve covered in another post, create a link to that separate post so that the reader can be guided by you to explore the related topic.

Too many business owners leave site navigation to chance – just hoping that a visitor will guess where to go next. It’s far better to spoonfeed a visitor – always give them a suggestion of what to do next, with a well placed link or call to action.

Be readable

Confronting a site visitor with a wall of dense text is a real turn-off which will quickly have them clicking away from your site.

There are some simple tweaks you can make to avoid this happening.

Breaking up your text with pictures, sub-headings, bulleted lists and short paragraphs will make a page of text much easier on the eye.

Likewise you need to ensure that you cater to what’s called the dual readership path.

Some people will start at the first word on the page and diligently read each and every line.

However many of your website visitors will be ‘scanners’ – they literally want to quickly scan the page for the key details – pausing for just long enough to read headings, sub-headings, lists, bullet points and bolded or italicised text. You can check that you’ve catered to the readers who scan by going through your page looking at just those parts of it – to see if it still makes enough sense for someone to get the gist of what you’re saying.

Usually if a scanner likes what they see, they will then go back and read the detail of the page, but if you don’t construct your page to make sense to a scanner at the outset you won’t get that second chance.

Another big mistake I see website owners make is that of speaking over the heads of their readers. They mistakenly think that to be taken seriously as a business owner they need to fill their website copy with complex sentences and convoluted reasoning. This could not be further from the truth.

The copy which gets read the most is the copy which is easy to read, and written in a simple style.

You can see how readable your website copy is by checking what’s called the Flesch-Kincaid score. Ideally you want to be aiming for a score of about 8 or below so that the majority of readers will find it easy to consume.

This FK score of 8 or less is known to be a strict criterion of one of the largest and most successful newsletter publishers in the world, Agora Publishing – so it’s well worth emulating!

(Note : to check your score, just run your copy through Word, go to Spelling and Grammar, select options, then tick the ‘show readability statistics’ box)

Remember, the first step to building a relationship with a potential prospect is to get them to consume your content. There’s no way someone will buy from you if you can’t get them to first consume your marketing message – which will be through your blogposts, and your webcopy, then leading on to your salespage copy.

Simple, readable compelling copy will get consumed more, it’s a fact!

Be visible

To me this seems obvious, yet I still see a lot of business websites with NO pictures of the people who are the business. Nobody will recognise, care about, or warm to your logo, unless you’re a very well established business in the ranks of the Nikes and Coca-Colas of this world.

We’re hard wired to connect more readily to faces – so show your face on your website and be approachable!

Also make sure you’re using your website as an opportunity to personally connect with your prospects. This is so simple to do with your blog and social media plugins. Be sure to always reply to someone who takes the time to leave a comment on your blog – or at least attempt to reply to most of the comments. To me it’s the height of rudeness not to reply. It’s no different from having a face to face conversation with someone and not replying to them – which of course you would never do!

Responding to comments on your blog is a perfect opportunity to quickly build a connection with someone, so use it to your advantage, and remember that anyone who comes to your blog at any time will then see these conversations – all great business building strategies.

Avoid call-to-action A.D.D

It’s a well known fact that a confused mind won’t buy, and along the same lines, an overwhelmed mind won’t take action on your website either.

For every section of your website – both pages and individual blogposts – you should be giving one clear call to action. Yet too often I see messages such as this at the end of a post or page  “Leave a comment below, Like this on Facebook, Tweet this out to your friends…oh, and come and check out my programme on this separate page too”

As soon as a reader sees that they’ll think it looks like hard work, and do nothing instead.

It’s far better to be clear on your most wanted action for each page – then focus on giving a compelling call to action to encourage that one outcome.

 

So there you have it – some simple strategies to plug the leaks in your site. Taking the time to implement these will mean you’ll be rewarded with better rankings, and a more engaged audience – both of which will help to grow your business!

Be sure to leave a comment below about which strategy you’ll implement first.

 

About the Author:Tanya Smith is known as the Marketing and Mindset Mentor with a knack for simplifying the complicated! She helps Service Business Professionals (Coaches, Consultants, Therapists, Trainers and Solopreneur Business Women) to consistently attract more ideal clients and make more profits with step by step simple marketing and sales strategies which work. She shows you how to use leverage in your business, to make a bigger difference, positively impact more clients and make more sales without being left overwhelmed and time challenged. You can check out her FREE resources at http://www.InnerGameProfits.com/free-stuff   starting with the ‘Get More Clients Marketing Plan’ which gives you an easy audit of where your marketing is now, then the 6 simple steps to rapidly get more clients and make more money, with step by step strategies and fill in the blank templates to apply in your business today.

Just what is your website delivering?

We invest so much time, money and effort in our websites as they are (quite rightly) a showcase for our business offering.  But how well do we measure this investment?  Do we make the most of the analytics available and do we really understand the role and value our site has in our customers’ purchasing processes? Is the money we’ve invested generating the stream of quality sales and new business leads we’d hoped for?

What are you measuring?

It’s tempting, when trying to measure our website, to focus too much on traffic volumes and not enough about the next step – the generation of quality business leads and profitable sales.  There’s an assumption that one must lead to the other, but that’s not always the case.

Website analytics tools give fabulous insight about our site’s new visitors, repeat visits, which sites referred people to us etc but that’s only part of the puzzle.  We also need to track:

a) How many people went on to contact us because of our site and

b) What volume eventually purchased from us

This is easier if we’re selling products over an e-commerce platform, but for those businesses where customers want a more face-to-face sales approach this information is harder to gather.

Are you really using your analytics to their full potential?

Whilst there are numerous website analytics tools out there, most people I talk to use Google Analytics largely because it’s free and easy to use.  It gives a mine of valuable insight in how people are coming to your site and using it.  For the novices out there, I do recommend spending time getting to grips with the wide range of reports your analytics tool gives.

Beyond your traffic and visitors totals in a given period, delve down deeper to find out where your visitors are coming  from.  This can help you formulate strategies to attract more of your ‘ideal’ business leads.  For example, are there any interesting referral sources that perhaps have a synergy with you and which you can get closer to – perhaps cross-promoting each other?

Make more of search terms

And what search terms are people putting in to get to you? Variations of your business name may well dominate the top section of the ranking, so drill down further to the search terms put in by people who don’t know you.  What  words have they put in their searches?  These prompt two courses of action:

  1. If the words reflect your business offering, can you make more of them in your site’s content or online promotions to drive more people your way? Remember these keywords guide you, not only on what potential customers are looking for, but how they describe it. So adopt their language and phrases to appeal to them.  Can you build in calls to action around the words/terms to motivate the visitor to get in touch and become a tangible business lead?
  2. If you feel the key words you expected to see aren’t showing in your analytics then question why.  Perhaps you need to rethink the content and search engine optimisation of your site? Perhaps you need to opt for other words that customers prefer.

Also, do take stock of which pages in your site are resonating with people and which are not.  What is it about the popular pages that work well? Again, can you build in more calls to action on these pages to motivate people to get in touch?

Don’t forget to track your efforts to drive leads to your site

It’s likely you’ll be investing in promotional activity to drive people to your site and it’s important to measure this too.  For offline advertising if you can promote a particular offer or page on your site, that will help you assess the interest generated from that campaign. Take a snapshot of the popularity of the page(s) before you run the campaign to make it easier to assess its effectiveness when the ads run.

For e-marketing campaigns then do use something like Google url builder so that when people click on that link to your site, Google Analytics (if you’re using it) is tracking the traffic from that specific source.  Remember to also monitor visitors from your social media or blogs too to see how worthwhile all the time and energy has been in that area.

But where are the sales leads?

If you’re not operating an e-commerce operation, you’ll need to find other ways to assess your site’s role in bringing in new sales to your business. Completed ‘Contact us’ forms on your site give one indicator, but not all customers will come via this route.  Some will opt to ring using the number shown on your site or send an email to the address promoted there.

A potential customer may experience a number of events which promote you before actually getting in contact – they may have seen your ad in the press, seen your site via a search in Google, heard something good about you etc.  When sales staff ask ‘so how did you hear of us?’ the customer often selects the most recent instance in their mind.  If you want to see what part your website has played in all this then why not ask a secondary question – ‘have you seen our website?’  and,  if they’re amenable, explore what they viewed and even what they thought of that.

What is your site being used for?

This leads us on to another key area of measurement.  What are your potential and existing customers using your site for?  Is it simply to get your phone number and address?  Are they using it to find out more about your products and services?  Is it a resource of valuable information and guidance for them post sale? Do they buy from it?  Do they use it to refer others to you?

And how does this differ from the purpose you originally intended the site to have?

Each of those customer motives suggests a different emphasis in your site’s content and design.  If your site needs to be just a big signpost for your phone number and email address (and your customers are never going to use it beyond that) then create the design of the site around your contact details.  Don’t invest loads of money in a multi-page, ‘all singing and dancing’ site where the information that’s really wanted is buried.

Talk to your customers, track the analytics and assess how the site is being used.  Explore with your best customers if they think the site should have more functionality and resources.  Look at the nature of your product/service offering and assess whether customers would or wouldn’t utilise additional features. Even go so far as to calculate the potential positive or negative impact on sales.   Is your investment here likely to pay off?

Is the web delivering the right sort of customer to you?

I know a company who over a period of time found that the customers they generated from the web were very price sensitive and the revenue value from this source was lower than other channels.  So don’t lose sight of your business’s best customer profile.  Yes there is a bigger market available via the web but if it will demand discounts that aren’t financially viable for you, should you go there?   Be careful about moving into a market where your business can’t compete well on price or against the variables being offered by competitors in that arena.

Summary

Most businesses accept they have to have a web presence to be visible to their existing and future customers. The trick is to invest time understanding the customers you’re best suited to supplying, both now and in the future.  Adapt your site to appeal to them:

  1. Invest time finding out what other sites they like for products/services similar to yours.  Also ask their opinions about what they do and don’t like about your site in comparison.
  2. Monitor your site’s analytics and your sales leads sources. Keep tweaking and fine-tuning content and campaigns to make the site perform better in this regard.
  3. Remember your target market’s online activity is unlikely to remain static and you’ll need to move and adapt with them – that is if you want to continue winning their business.

 

Magnetise your Website without any Bells or Whistles

You can hire the best web designer in town and add on every bell and whistle known to man; but if your web site lacks a compelling, client-magnetic messaging, it will not make you much money. In fact, it may not make you any money at all!

So what, you may be thinking, makes for compelling, client-magnetic messaging? I shall return the question to you: What would grab and hold your attention on a website?
What would make you keep coming back and telling others about it?

From years of helping others develop client-attractive messaging, I can tell you, if your website includes the following 8 messages, for the reasons given, it will get the attention of your intended audience.

1. Your audience

The message:  The intended audience is clearly identified, so they recognise themselves or their friends as soon as they land on any page of your web site! Ambiguity leads to indifference and inactivity; two things you do not want!

The why: Your audience is clearly defined, so they know you are talking to them. When your audience is not clear, no one takes notice! Have you ever had experience leading people where you said, “Somebody, do this,” and nobody did it? The same principle applies to your web copy. This is one occasion when you want people to take things personally. So, name them to gain them!

2. What’s the Problem?

The message: The problems your audience grapples with are clearly identified in your web copy, together with reassurance that you are able to help solve them;

The why: The problems you solve are evident in your message, so that those with this problem know you can help them with what keeps them up at night! And people can refer others to you because they know what specific problems you solve.

3. Your speciality

The message: The outcomes you deliver are exactly what they are looking for, and clearly spelt out on your site. This is where your sharp definition of your ideal client and thorough market research comes in handy!

The why: Your unique difference is expressed, so that your audience knows why they should contact you, and not any of the other gazillion people who offer what you do. Note that your unique difference will resonate with some and not others. However, you cannot delight everyone, so those who resonate with you are your best targets. Your difference will attract these people and make your work more pleasant as well as more profitable!

4. The outcome

The message: There is evidence that you have helped other people just like them get what they are looking for, in the form of testimonials and recommendations;

The why: You show what outcomes you facilitate and if that is what someone is looking for, they are more likely to contact you. For example in the case of two wealth coaches; Wealth Coach A helps you get out of debt and Wealth Coach B helps you become a millionaire! Those who are struggling with debt will be attracted to Wealth Coach A. Those who have no debt issues but want to make their first million will be attracted to Wealth Coach B. But if they did not specify the outcomes they facilitate they would end up looking like every other “generic wealth coach,” appealing to no one in particular. And when there is such a wide, generic pool to choose from people tend not to make any choice at all! So get them choosing you by telling them what outcomes you facilitate. And provide social proof in the form of testimonials and recommendations!

5. Simplicity

The message: Your copy is simple enough for a ten year old to read and understand, and is jargon free, considering that the average adult has a primary school reading ability level;

The why: Your message is easy enough for even a 10 year old to understand! Jargon and catchy-coined phrases may sound great to you, but if “outsiders” do not understand them, or need an encyclopaedia to understand your techno-speak, then you will lose confused prospects with your message.

6. Targeting

The message: Your presentation grabs attention, inspires trust and incites action! False modesty does not pay here. Get used to self-promotion and calls to action!

The why: Your message grabs the attention of those you want to attract. I have 4 children who, thankfully, are all past the diaper stage! So an advert about diapers that keep baby feeling dry and fresh will not stand out for me, though it would have a few years ago. However, an advert that features quality trainers for less than five pounds will have me tapping away on my computer to find out more immediately! If you are a caterer, what specific segment of the market are you aiming for? What problems are they grappling with, that you could solve? We certainly do not all have the same catering and dietary requirements! So, tailor your message to grab the attention of a specific audience to give it pulling power. If it is generic it might get a read but it will certainly not start a barrage of calls!

7. What now?

The message:  There is no doubt in the reader’s mind what to do next to get started with you!  Do not leave things to the reader’s imagination as most web surfers are too busy to engage their imagination!

The why: Very importantly, your message tells those whose attention you have grabbed, what to do next, in a compelling way! Surprisingly, even interested prospects need to be told what the next step is. And many business owners omit this part, assuming that people know what to do next, and will do it! This is not the case! You need to tell them in a way that spurs immediate action. For instance, “Call this number,” is not compelling. This implies they can call at their convenience, probably next month or next year! However, “Call this number before midnight to get 10% off,” or “Visit this site to download your free CD now. Limited copies available,” gives an incentive to act right away. If your message is to move people to action it must have a compelling call to action. Or else it will get ignored or procrastinated over, like all your other colleagues who are struggling to get clients!

8. It’s that easy

The message: The action you require your readers to take next is easy and immediately accessible. Do not require them to jump several hoops as if they were poodles in an online circus! Where possible, use a one- or two-step sign up process.

The why: Your call to action can easily be carried out, eliminating any obstacles that could discourage your readers from following through.

Don’t forget to get personable…A professional picture of you can work additional wonders! Do not listen to the old-school-stuck-in-the-mud crowd who hide behind corporate anonymity. These are the days of relationship-building and engagement to get clients. Show up on your web pages, looking bright and alert! You do not need to look like a model or rock star; just show that you are happy to serve!

You are now ready and able to give your web copy a client-magnet makeover!

You can immediately start to attract more of your ideal clients with your magnetic messaging.
These tips will work just as well for the rest of your marketing materials as they will for your web pages . So print them out, keep them close and feel free to pass them along!