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How to recognise opportunities to develop and apply new ideas

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Continuous improvement is the process of continually identifying, assessing, and implementing ways to improve products, services, or processes. In the context of your own work, it means constantly evaluating and seeking ways to improve one’s performance, skills, and knowledge.

This can involve making incremental changes, which are small, gradual improvements made over time, rather than large, drastic changes. By recognizing the value of continuous improvement, an individual is committing to a mindset of always striving to be better and more efficient in their work, which can lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction.

Continuous improvement can contribute to the design of new approaches within the immediate work environment by encouraging the identification of problems or inefficiencies, and the development and implementation of solutions. Through the process of continuous improvement, individuals and teams can identify areas for improvement, set goals, and create action plans to achieve those goals. By regularly evaluating the effectiveness of these plans, and making adjustments as needed, new approaches can be developed and implemented in the work environment.

Additionally, continuous improvement can foster a culture of experimentation and innovation within the work environment, as individuals and teams are encouraged to try new ideas and approach problems from different perspectives. This can lead to the development of new and more efficient processes, products, or services.

Moreover, continuous improvement can also encourage employees to take ownership of their work and to be more engaged in their job by giving them an opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement, this can improve the overall productivity and satisfaction of the employees.

In summary, continuous improvement can contribute to the design of new approaches within the immediate work environment by promoting problem-solving, experimentation, innovation, employee engagement, and a focus on achieving specific goals.

Addressing Problems

There are several ways to address problems affecting your role in a small business:

  • Identify the problem: Clearly define the problem and its scope. Gather information and data to help understand the problem and its causes.
  • Involve relevant stakeholders: Consult with team members, colleagues, and other relevant stakeholders to gather their perspectives and ideas.
  • Develop a plan: Based on the information gathered, develop a plan to address the problem. The plan should include specific, measurable goals and a timeline for achieving them.
  • Implement the plan: Put the plan into action and monitor progress.
  • Evaluate the results: Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the plan, and make adjustments as needed.
  • Communicate: Communicate the progress and outcome of the problem-solving efforts to all the stakeholders.
  • Continuously Improvise: Continuously look for ways to improve the process and to prevent similar problems from arising in the future.
  • Seek support: If the problem is too big to handle by oneself, seek support from management or external resources such as consultants, or experts.

By following these steps, one can effectively address problems affecting their role in a small business context, and help improve the overall efficiency and productivity of the organization.

Adapting proposals vs exploring new ideas

Adopting proposals suggested by others where these do not require radical change refers to the process of being open to and willing to consider new ideas and suggestions.

Even if they may not align with one’s own initial thoughts or approach. This can involve taking the time to understand and evaluate the potential benefits and drawbacks of the proposal.

Then you can work to adapt and implement it in a way that is practical and feasible within the current constraints of your own job role as part of continuous improvement processes.

Adapting proposals is a different process to the ongoing exploration of new ideas.

Exploration of new ideas requires skills to assess the viability and effectiveness of a small business with limited people and financial resources is critically important to the survival of a small business.

Exploring new ideas, rather than adapting proposed ideas for implementation, requires business management skills assess viable options. To do this you would need to have developed analysing and critical thinking skills in earlier topics in this program to be given the decision-making authority to do this at the stage of the business improvement process.

Small business need to continuously innovate and explore new ideas in order to stay competitive and grow, and can adapt their operations faster than larger business to bring new products to market before major competitors.

Small businesses often have limited resources, and therefore must be strategic in their decision-making and resource allocation. By continuously exploring new ideas, a small business can identify new opportunities for growth and improvement, and develop innovative solutions to the challenges it faces.

Summary

the Adopting proposals is about being open to and willing to consider new ideas and suggestions, even if they may not align with one’s own initial thoughts or approach. Exploring new ideas is about the need for small business to continuously innovate and explore new ideas in order to stay competitive and grow.

You may be asked to do both of these things if you are working for a small business as you would have direct access to the business owner, but at the end of the day the business has to be able to make money to afford to keep you on. Perfections is the enemy of profits, which is why all businesses, large and small, have their own versions of improvement processes to test and trial products to see if it is want customers want.

You can’t improve something that doesn’t exist, and you can’t ask customers for feedback on it either. This is the balancing act all businesses go through, but small businesses generally have better relationships with customers who give better feedback on what others would be willing to pay for it.

If you can do that, you get word-of-mouth advertising and promotes for your business, which is usually the cheapest form of marketing businesses can do.

Developing self-management skills

Facilitating a climate in which creativity and innovation are accepted as an integral part of the way things are done in successful small businesses, for example:

  • build in time for idea creation and sharing,
  • deliberately look for the potential in ideas proposed by others,
  • especially when ideas do not seem immediately practical

This is examples of what would make you more suitable than others to work for a small business as not everyone has the right mindset to do this.

Not matter if you are looking for employment or contract work on a project, having the skills to do this increases you earning capacity with small businesses.

If you have this on your resume or client testimonials it stands out in an interview. Which even prospective clients do too before agreeing to pay you.

Even you don’t think you have the experience (or are eligible to) apply for a position or start a business, this skill can still get you the gig.

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Essential implementation skills required in a small business

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Small businesses often allocate tasks to people that work for them above the level of authority in a larger business. This can be a great source of frustration for employees who have experience working in the industry.

As the team workers have direct access to the business owner who is used to doing the work themselves, often the business owner may not realize that they are actually allocating management tasks.

This may seem to the business owner as just how you do things in a small business. However, what you are doing is giving the worker management experience to put on their resume. This gives the worker the confidence to apply for management jobs, which pay better, even in a small business.

People don’t leave a job for better money. How do they know they can get better money for another company if they are not looking for a better-paying job? And a job is no longer an employment agreement.

What is a “Job”?

Working under an ABN as a “Solopreneur”, AKA, a business as a sole trader, is also considered a “job” by the ATO. It is categorized as a “self-employment agreement”, and now you can get funding (as a wage subsidy through Centrelink) and 12 months of coaching to set yourself up with a job. With all of the flexible work arrangements, the Fair Work Commission is trying to get larger businesses to do.

The key definition from the ATO as to if you are a “contractor” or under an “employment agreement” is contractors have the ability to set their own hours of work, and also are allowed to subcontract their work to meet the demands of the client outcomes. So if you are looking for that, read our previous blog on Thinking of starting a business, and want to know how to do that. But for Employers and employees, please read on.

You don’t hear people talking at the pub, saying “I love my job”, and their friends say “yeah, but you could get better money working for another company”. Usually, they say, “wow, how can I get a job like that”. Money doesn’t even come up unless they say they don’t like their job.

People who are doing what they love, and are allowed to do regularly, don’t say they don’t like their job. If they don’t love what the do in their job they say “it’s OK”, so don’t want to leave. However, this is what has been coined as “quiet quitting”, which is the situation employees (and business owners) find themselves in where they stay because they don’t know what else they can do.

This is becoming the biggest problem in Business today, as part of the “great resignation” debate. Job ads were at their highest levels since before the GFC. It takes 8 weeks (at least) to replace good employees, who only have to give you 1 or 2 weeks’ notice. That is a big cost to micro-businesses if 20% of their staff leave.

What’s the problem?

2 quotes spring to mind whenever I have this discussion with Small Business owners.

  1. The problem is not “what if we train them well and they leave?”, the problem (for any business) is “what if we don’t train them well, and they stay” – Henry Ford. That want really costs a small business money, customers, and time, as there is nowhere for them to hide
  2. Train them well enough so they can leave, then treat them well so they don’t have to – Richard Branson

A third quote, from this century, is “people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses” – Simon Sinek.

What makes a bad boss? Lots of things, but in this case, it’s poor delegation skills.

While leaders and managers may have been promoted because of their skills in the job they were doing, if they are not trained well in leadership and management, then this becomes a big problem.

Job ads are back to the level they were before the GFC, but this time, the unemployment rate is much lower. So if staff leave you, it will be very tough to replace them anytime soon.

From the Australian Government Internet Vacancy Index 2006 to 2022
From the Australian Government Internet Vacancy Index

What good leaders and managers both do

Good leaders and managers know the capabilities of the people in their care. If they delegate work above the person’s required skill level for their job, good managers reward their team no matter if they ask for it or not.

It’s not about the money, it’s usually acknowledgment that they are performing above their pay grade, and they feel appreciated and secure in their job. Why would they look for another one?

If this is a problem for you, here is something that might help you out. This list is from the core skills for work framework used in business training qualifications.

Do an audit on yourself and your delegation skills before saying “don’t you know how hard it is to get good staff”?

Maybe you need to employ a supervisor or manager, even if you have no other staff. Sometimes business owners need to accept they are not the best person to be managing the business

Team member skills

  • Plans a range of routine, and some non-routine, tasks, accepting stated goals and aiming to achieve them efficiently
  • Applies formal processes when planning more complex/unfamiliar tasks, producing plans with logically sequenced steps, reflecting some awareness of time and resource constraints and the needs of others in the immediate vicinity
  • Implements actions as per plan, making slight adjustments if necessary, and addressing some unexpected issues
  • Seeks assistance from more experienced colleagues as required
  • May use ICT based systems and programs to assist with planning, implementing and tracking progress
  • Assesses effectiveness in terms of how well-stated goals were achieved and how closely the process followed the original plan and timeframes

Supervisor

  • Develops plans to manage relatively complex, non-routine tasks with an awareness of how they may contribute to longer term operational and strategic goals
  • Begins to recognise the importance of other stakeholders throughout the process and is learning to clarify goals and proposed methodology with others, maintain communication and manage expectations and understanding
  • Monitors actions against stated goals, adjusting plans and resources to cope with contingencies
  • Uses a combination of formal, logical planning processes and an increasingly intuitive understanding of context to identify relevant information and risks, identify and evaluate alternative strategies and resources
  • Sequences and schedules complex activities, monitors implementation and manages relevant communication e.g. formal project management processes and associated technology
  • Reflects on outcomes and feedback from others in order to identify general principles and concepts that may be applicable in new situations
  • Recognises the need for flexibility and is learning how to adjust or even abandon plans as circumstances and priorities change

Manager skills

  • Develops flexible plans for complex, high impact activities with strategic implications that involve a diverse range of stakeholders with potentially competing demands
  • Recognises the critical importance of clarifying, focusing and aligning goals and expectations, and may use the process to build ownership of, and broad commitment to achieving outcomes
  • Uses a mix of intuitive and formal processes to identify key information and issues, evaluate alternative strategies, anticipate consequences and consider implementation issues and contingencies
  • May operate from a broad conceptual plan, developing the operational detail in stages, regularly reviewing priorities and performance during implementation, identifying and addressing issues and reallocating resources
  • Skilfully utilises existing structures and systems to coordinate activity, or designs new processes as required
  • Focuses effort on what is most important, delegating to others as required, managing interruptions, recognising potential issues and taking quick action to identify and resolve problems
  • Gathers data and seeks feedback from others to gain new perspectives and identify ways to strengthen planning processes in the future

If you need more help with this, or in a hole and can’t see a way out, let’s have a chat. Every business goes through this at some point. We have options anyone can do, and people in our network that can help anyone too.

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If this looks like you, you’ll feel much better if we are on the other end of the phone with options. Let’s chat.
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Thinking of starting a business, and want to know how to do that

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Anyone can start a business in Australia regardless of their citizenship or residency status. However, there are certain requirements that must be met in order to legally operate a business in Australia.

  1. You must have an Australian Business Number (ABN) and register for goods and services tax (GST) if your business has a turnover of $75,000 or more.
  2. You may need to obtain licenses and permits specific to your business and industry.
  3. You will also need to comply with Australian laws and regulations regarding business operations, including workplace health and safety, consumer protection, and fair trading.
  4. If you are not an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you will need to obtain the appropriate visa to work and operate a business in Australia.

It is important to consult with the relevant government agencies and professional advisors to ensure that you meet all the necessary requirements and comply with the regulations.

What is popular now

Popular start-up businesses can vary depending on location and industry, but some examples of popular types of start-up businesses include:

  1. E-commerce businesses: Online stores or marketplaces that sell products or services.
  2. Technology businesses: Software development, app development, and other tech-related businesses, including SaaS (Software as a service) to support other small businesses
  3. Service-based businesses: Consulting, coaching, and other professional services.
  4. Food and beverage businesses: Restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and other food-related businesses.
  5. Health and wellness businesses: Gyms, spas, and other businesses related to health and wellness.
  6. Social media and digital marketing: Social media management, digital marketing and other online advertising businesses.
  7. Home-based businesses: businesses that can be run from home, such as tutoring, pet-sitting, and home cleaning, online business managers, and virtual assistants.
  8. Home renovation and remodeling businesses: Businesses that specializes in home renovation, remodeling and maintenance.

It’s important to note that there are many more possibilities for start-up businesses, and it’s always a good idea to research and consult with experts to identify opportunities in your area.

Popular Small Business roles

If you are looking to start a business that provides services to help other small businesses, then you can look at the popular jobs advertised on the internet to see where the skills gaps are in Australia. If big business takes up all this talent, Small Businesses are unlikely to find someone who only wants to do a couple of hours of work a day as a casual employee.

This is why the gig economy has taken off. Not only do you get work from one small business, they tell all their mates in business about you. That’s how Paula from Beyond the Maze started her VA business 9 years ago. Now she has 8 people working for her to fill the demand. Including now being able to afford a personal assistant, and living the dream of most business owners who want to spend more time with their families.

While LinkedIn has produced a report of the top 25 job roles worldwide, The internet vacancy index available through the Australian government’s labour market portal may give you a better idea of the contractor work that is available.

If you look at the work that is done by Virtual Assistants, usually business administration and customer contact roles (including online sales), there are over 40,000 jobs advertised that require these skills every month in Australia alone. For people based in Australia. The main reason Australian businesses contract work to overseas VA’s is no longer because of the cheap hourly rate. They are happy to pay Australians to do it, going by the number of ads for them, they just can’t find them to do it.

Advertised jobs

The top 2 advertised job roles in Australia have over 40,000 positions advertised every month. As, usually, larger businesses advertise jobs on the internet, this number doesn’t take into account the 2.4 million local small businesses. 85% of small businesses are micro-businesses, with under 5 employees, if they can find people to do these jobs, that is. Many just give up looking for help.

Forcing people into these jobs is not the answer either. If these jobs were filled by long-term unemployed, so-called “dole bludgers”, and were forced to take up jobs in the top 3 advertised roles, Australia would run out of job seekers in just 4 month time.

Or if you wanted to force them to help small businesses, there would only be enough long-term unemployed to help 1 out of every 10 small businesses. So who would you like to make that decision?

That’s why businesses that provide service to small businesses don’t have any trouble getting work. So if you are looking to get a pay increase for your office job, working flexible work hours, most likely from home, self-employment is a viable option.

For the month of August 2022

Overcoming low pay rates

Recent changes late in 2022 to Australia’s fair work act have put a renewed focus on closing the gender pay gap. It’s not just about increasing the minimum wage in female-dominated industries. Just about all businesses learned the difference between working from home and being set up to do remote work, thanks to COVID-19 lockdowns.

People who have set themselves up to do work under flexible work arrangements outside of the office need to have more skills than people working in the office. Adult Self-management skills that require fewer managers to supervise. Improve processes to get more work done in less time to maintain a work-life balance. Not to mention WHS laws cover the time to travel to and from work.

If a business says you are suitable to do remote work from home, you should be paid more than the people doing the same job in the office. Not just for your higher skills add value to the organization, but it cost the business less to employ you.

Add in carers and aid, and you have 3 female-dominated industries at the top of the internet job adds, where fair work is trying to increase the minimum wages. Overcome previous discrimination over pay rates with gender bias factors in professions where cheap overseas alternatives exist.

Calling BS from Big Business

We’ve seen this argument used by Coles and Woolworths as to why they keep the price of a 2 lt bottle of milk at 1980’s prices. “we can’t pay the farmers more, as our customers can’t afford a price rise”. In Queensland, dairy farms had to close down as they could pay the bills, and now the supermarkets have to ship milk up from Victoria (and have done so for many years).

Where are we now? from $2 a bottle to, what, over $3? I wouldn’t know as I only buy non-homogenized milk. When I spoke to the dairy farmers they explained why I should do that, that’s also how I found out about “farmgate” prices.

Did you know that coffee farmers around the world on average only get $0.07 (7 cents) per kg for the coffee they grow? Luckily there are Aussie companies like AgUnity to help some of the poorest farmers around the world. But like many Aussie startups, they have to operate overseas. Using blockchain technology with people that have never owned a smartphone, and working with fairtrade organizations and NGOs to lift farmers out of poverty (UNSDG #1). But in Australia, the lucky country, they don’t operate as I doubt most people here knows what real poverty is.

Who are big businesses to set what people can afford, particularly when customers realize the cost to human lives? If it’s not droughts or flooding rain, it’s the mental health issues that have the greatest loss of human life.

Why do remote workers have to live in the metropolitan area I wonder? You can ask the new Queensland Chief entrepreneur that, next time she travels to an event in Brisbane from her home in Goondiwindi. Google it if you don’t know where that is.

How is the commission helping Small Businesses?

The Fair Work Act now has a new equal remuneration principle to guide the Commission’s consideration of equal remuneration and work value cases. This is to help the Commission issue pay increases to workers in low-paid, female-dominated industries, particularly in big business for example.

To say it will hurt small businesses first is crap. The big businesses regularly lock up talent by giving them more hours, when they get them in that is. So their talents go to waste and they do extra work not related to the primary role. Usually urgent but not important tasks, which devalues the employee, and big businesses blame employees for “quiet quitting”?

“people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses” – Simon Sinek

Whereas Small business says “I can only afford to pay [this amount]”, and contractors learn how to get the work done faster. Which essentially increases the contractor’s hourly rate as they can work for more than 1 client.

For equal remuneration cases, the Commission can now make an equal remuneration order (ERO) on its own initiative as well as on application.

When considering an application, the Commission:

  • can consider comparisons between occupations and industries or if work has been undervalued based on gender historically
  • isn’t limited to comparing similar work and doesn’t need a male comparator
  • isn’t required to find discrimination based on gender if considering a comparison or if work has been historically undervalued based on gender.

If you are looking for where the increased wages could come from, have a look at the job roles below. The business admin-related role with the lowest number of female employees has the highest earnings. Yet their customers are predominantly female users, who would be better suited to teach new customers how to use the technology.

Or, maybe big businesses can stop employing highly skilled people and get them to do low-paying jobs under the veil of “job security”. These are the first jobs that get cut back.

How do you get a job doing what you love? Book a free chat here and discover who wants to hire you.

It’s the highest requested job for us to find someone to do… Train people to use the technology admin staff use every day. And the only question employers ask in the interview is “why do you love doing that”.

We think it’s about time you got paid what that’s worth, don’t you?

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What is the BOW model, and how to use it

TAEtanic

The BOW model is one of those cool business acronyms that everyone seems to have heard of when you say what it is, but no one seems to know where the term came from. It’s a decision-making tool that can be used in 2 ways. Just like to word itself has 2 meanings, so does this model.

If you don’t know where you are going to end up, it’s like the bow of a ship. The captain, or the leader of the business in this context, knows what direction the ship is going when they look out from the bridge to the bow of the ship. That is if the ship is going forward, of course, you can go full steam ahead.

But this didn’t work out so well for the Titanic, so the model, too, doesn’t always work out for you.

The other context is as a bow and arrow when you have a clear target to shoot for, which is likely to be the purpose of the business. The problem in this context is once you let the arrow fly, there is nothing more you can do.

Sure, you can shoot another arrow, if you have one, but until you decide to do that you are left standing there holding the bow waiting to see the consequences of your actions.

Why do people use the BOW model in two ways?

The thing with the arrow model is as the target gets further away, you need a bigger bow with more leverage to cover the distance to the moving target.

But the chances of hitting the target are slim to none as it moves further away, which happens in a regularly changing market. When that happens, you can jump in your ship and go full steam ahead pointing the bow at the target. When you get in range of your bow, you can have another shot at the target.

With each passing arrow, you get closer to the target and increase your chances of hitting it with your arrow. Even if you have no skill with a bow and arrow, any idiot can hit a target with a ship once they get going. They just point the bow at it, and don’t have to do any more work. These people will only miss if they stop.

But ships don’t go on land, so this may seem an unlikely fable to you. So, if you’ve read Sinek’s book, think of it this way. The bow on a ship is used by infinite gamers, whereas the bow and arrow are used by finite gamers.

Does that make sense?

What does BOW stand for?

I mentioned it was a decision-making tool, but I should have mentioned what the letter stood for, right? Well, if I did that, would you have read my story above? PR experts tell you to tell the story of what you do, not just say what you do. So now we’ve made the copywriters happy…

BOW stands for:

  • Best
  • Ok
  • Worst

Simple, right?

But you won’t find it on Google, and there is no point asking ChatGPT either.

When I first started using it a few years ago, I was told it must have a name if I wanted to use it for my business training. So in the spirit of the acronym MUST, as in Make Up Shit Too, that’s what I did and the BOW model was born. But then we had to go out and validate the ideas in business.

How I use this to identify and recognize skills and recommend career pathways giving people options, and enough information about the options for that person to make an informed decision as to what is best for them.

The problem I’ve found is that giving too much information causes analysis paralysis, and people become indifferent to all options.

How much information does each person need? Well for that, look up the diffusion of innovation personality types. That’s a whole other session on its own. Just keep moving on and if you want advice on this, book a call at the end of the blog.

Are you joking?

What started as a joke, just like “trickle-down economics”, does have sound theory behind it. It is similar to what others say is the “good, better, best” model, which is where people usually run to. However, to me, that sounds like a positive mindset BS if you don’t believe you can make a bad decision. And, more than a little bit narcissistic to me. Not who I was looking for Validation from.

That model also doesn’t take into account that a bad decision is not the opposite of a good decision. Both good and bad still require a decision to be made. So indifference, as the opposite of both a good and bad decision, sits in the middle of the 2 for fence sitters. Who could go either way depending on the consequences for them of not deciding what to do?

This just got real!

This is no joke to the business owner as indecisive people cost money, which Small businesses can’t afford to lose. And people that really want what you do will decide faster than people who feel they “need” to buy from you.

I’ve found that people that say they “need” to do anything and think they have no other options, which is more likely to lead to bad decisions. So the worst customers are usually in business and take sooo long to decide to pay you too.

Here is a chart that we put together to show how if you do what you love (your best option), rather than loving what you do (the OK option), you chose to be in the top 1/3 of performers using this decision-making model.

If you use this decision tool 3 times to decide a course of action, you have 27 different outcomes. So if you do what you love, you can put in the least amount of effort possible and go through 3 lots of 6 monthly performance reviews, and employers will usually still see their “best” candidates for a job rate their performance at 66%.

If new hires just put in an OK effort their rating generally stays at 80%.

This is why they say “if you do what you love, it’s no longer called work”. However, this causes resentment from people that “need” to keep their job, as these people have to put in 100% effort or more just to get out of the bottom 33% of workers.

How to get over yourself, and your success

To get over this, the top 1/3 only need to do an “OK” job to help get the “needy” people up to an average employee, and it also keeps the “best” workers operating at 66%.

Otherwise, the team will work at the pace of the slowest member, at a huge financial cost to any business. But it’s the responsibility of true business leaders to recognize this.

The leaders are not always the business owners, sometimes they are the managers. But if you don’t understand this, your leaders will leave, and all the people that you thought were your followers will go wherever your former leader goes.

It’s lonely for managers at the top If they don’t have someone to follow. That’s where mentors come in at any level in business.

Being your best

The “best” doesn’t mean the best at making decisions.

Part of a growth mindset is praising people for going through the process, in this case of making a decision based on the available information as to what you think is best for them. This may conflict with the business interest, but it forces them to make their own decision they must live with, not blame you for it.

“Quiet quitting”, I’ve found out, describes people who are indifferent to both staying or going. And if they did leave, they don’t know what else they would do next. They generally just want job security, and money coming in. They may be picky, but not fussy if that makes sense to you.

Can you do what you love?

People that do what they love, different from loving what you do, would still do it even if they were not getting paid, so don’t quit quietly. Conflict arises with people that love what they do, including people that love being a manager or leader title rather than loving doing the actual job.

People who want to do keep doing what they love, sooner or later, say “I’ve had enough of this shit, incompetent people telling me what to do”, and often look at starting their own business

If you are looking for further explanation or validation for this, look up the “Peter Principle”, which has been around since the 60’s. It is the main reason I’ve found most employees leave when unemployment rates are low. It also explains why some people are not suited to promote themselves to being business owners.

When you own your own business, you still have people telling you what to do. They are called regulators, customers, and clients, and if you don’t listen to them pretty soon you’ll have to sack yourself from that job, too.

“People don’t leave bad jobs. They leave bad bosses.” – Simon Sinek

Do you agree with that?

Startup Group
Startup Group

How to use the BOW model in business

Here is an example from our skills program as to how you can use it to decide who is your ideal customer in business, integrating it with a bunch of other tools, including #1 on our list of 100 tools, the Business Model Canvas (BMC).

The first thing to do when using a BMC as a business health check tool is to decide who is your customer segments as part of the business model canvas for the business you wish to work for.

We don’t start filling out the information in the same order as listed from 1 to 9 on the canvas template and the first thing you have to identify who your business will be of service to.

This you your business’ why, and determines what you want to do in what-if situations for your ideal customers. Then you can reverse-engineer your business operations to find and develop how you can deliver products and services to customers.

To keep it simple, and practical for you to use, in each section of the Business Model canvas you only write down 3 options, using the BOW model to simplify your decision into the following categories:

The Best Customers

Your ideal customer, someone who loves to do what you love doing, and also wants to do it the way you do it. They are likely to be the 20% of your customers that generate 80% of your profits. Why I ask business owners to tell me who are their best customers, they describe their avatar of their ideal customer (every time).

But when I ask business owners to tell me the name of their top five favorite customers and describe those customers to me, what those 5 customers have in common rarely sounds anything like their ideal customer. That’s usually when the lights go on, and they start to understand why their business is so much hard work for so little money, too.

Think of it like the old dad joke, but, again, it’s no joke in business:

“How many Psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb? Only 1, but the lightbulb must want to be changed.’

The OK option

These are customers that love what you do but don’t love the way you do it. These are likely to be 20% of your customers and 80% of your problems. While they are good for generating income but are too much hard work to keep your business profitable as they take too many resources, away from growing your business. When you get OK customers to 25% of your business, you start to go broke as 100% of your financial resources are spent on fixing problems with current customers, not keeping up with market changes or trends. A terminal illness in business.

The Worst Option

These are the customers that desperately need a solution. If someone says they “need” to do anything then they believe there are no other options. In business, you always have options, so if you “need” to take on these customers it adds to the 20% of the customers that cause 80% of your problems (see above for the result).  While you may provide short-term fixes for these customers, they are a big drain on your resources, even more than the OK options. The business might take them on as charity cases to have a social change impact.

Putting it all together…

If just 5% of your customers fall under this last (worst) category, it is likely to take up 80% of your resources to fix their problems. They are that “needy”.

You don’t have the spare capacity to take on new OK customers, but may get funding to take them on, so still list them on your canvas as the last option of customers to take on, but only when and if you can afford your worst customers on. You would be better offer referring them to someone else setup to help them. You can’t help everyone, and it is abuse if you try to manipulate people into doing what you want them to do when it is clearly not the best option for you or them.

The golden rule in a service business is, like they say in the airline safety briefing, “you must put your own oxygen mask on before you can help others”.

Even not-for-profits and charities have to be able to generate income. But at this stage, we are not looking and funding options, that will come in section 9 of the canvas when we look at revenue options.

So for now, just use these questions as the criteria to decide on the customer segments of the business and see if it comes up with a different target market to what you think is your ideal customer:

  • Who do you help?
  • Which groups are you creating value for?
  • Who is your most important audience?
  • Avatars of individual people and their interests
  • What problems are you trying to solve for them?

If you need help with this, we can help you in a free 15-minute discovery call

If you what to change the way you do business, or just want to know what options are out there so you can work out what is best for you, we love talking to you.

It’s what we do best.

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How to recognize opportunities to develop and apply new ideas

What is continuous improvement?

Don’t assume everyone has the same definition of what something is, so let’s start with this. To me, continuous improvement is the process of continually identifying, assessing, and implementing ways to improve products, services, or processes.

In the context of your own work, it means constantly evaluating and seeking ways to improve one’s performance, skills, and knowledge.

This can involve making incremental changes, which are small, gradual improvements made over time, rather than large, drastic changes. By recognizing the value of continuous improvement, an individual is committing to a mindset of always striving to be better and more efficient in their work, which can lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction.

Continuous improvement can contribute to the design of new approaches within the immediate work environment by encouraging the identification of problems or inefficiencies, and the development and implementation of solutions. Through the process of continuous improvement, individuals and teams can identify areas for improvement, set goals, and create action plans to achieve those goals. By regularly evaluating the effectiveness of these plans, and making adjustments as needed, new approaches can be developed and implemented in the work environment.

Additionally, continuous improvement can foster a culture of experimentation and innovation within the work environment, as individuals and teams are encouraged to try new ideas and approach problems from different perspectives. This can lead to the development of new and more efficient processes, products, or services.

Moreover, continuous improvement can also encourage employees to take ownership of their work and to be more engaged in their job by giving them an opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement, this can improve the overall productivity and satisfaction of the employees.

In summary, continuous improvement can contribute to the design of new approaches within the immediate work environment by promoting problem-solving, experimentation, innovation, employee engagement, and a focus on achieving specific goals.

Addressing Problems

There are several ways to address problems affecting your role in a small business:

  • Identify the problem: Clearly define the problem and its scope. Gather information and data to help understand the problem and its causes.
  • Involve relevant stakeholders: Consult with team members, colleagues, and other relevant stakeholders to gather their perspectives and ideas.
  • Develop a plan: Based on the information gathered, develop a plan to address the problem. The plan should include specific, measurable goals and a timeline for achieving them.
  • Implement the plan: Put the plan into action and monitor progress.
  • Evaluate the results: Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the plan, and make adjustments as needed.
  • Communicate: Communicate the progress and outcome of the problem-solving efforts to all the stakeholders.
  • Continuously Improvise: Continuously look for ways to improve the process and to prevent similar problems from arising in the future.
  • Seek support: If the problem is too big to handle by oneself, seek support from management or external resources such as consultants, or experts.

By following these steps, one can effectively address problems affecting their role in a small business context, and help improve the overall efficiency and productivity of the organization.

Adapting proposals vs exploring new ideas

Adopting proposals suggested by others where these do not require radical change refers to the process of being open to and willing to consider new ideas and suggestions.

Even if they may not align with one’s own initial thoughts or approach. This can involve taking the time to understand and evaluate the potential benefits and drawbacks of the proposal.

Then you can work to adapt and implement it in a way that is practical and feasible within the current constraints of your own job role as part of continuous improvement processes.

Adapting proposals is a different process from the ongoing exploration of new ideas.

Exploration of new ideas

Exploration of new ideas requires skills to assess the viability and effectiveness of a small business with limited people and financial resources is critically important to the survival of a small business.

Exploring new ideas, rather than adapting proposed ideas for implementation, requires business management skills to assess viable options. To do this you would need to have developed analyzing and critical thinking skills in earlier topics in this program to be given the decision-making authority to do this at the stage of the business improvement process.

Small businesses need to continuously innovate and explore new ideas in order to stay competitive and grow and can adapt their operations faster than larger businesses to bring new products to market before major competitors.

Small businesses often have limited resources, and therefore must be strategic in their decision-making and resource allocation. By continuously exploring new ideas, a small business can identify new opportunities for growth and improvement, and develop innovative solutions to the challenges it faces.

In summary, Adopting proposals is about being open to and willing to consider new ideas and suggestions, even if they may not align with one’s own initial thoughts or approach. Exploring new ideas is about the need for small businesses to continuously innovate and explore new ideas in order to stay competitive and grow.

Do you need to do both?

You may be asked to do both of these things if you are working for a small business as you would have direct access to the business owner, but at the end of the day, the business has to be able to make money to afford to keep you on. Perfection is the enemy of profits, which is why all businesses, large and small, have their own versions of improvement processes to test and trial products to see if it is what customers want.

You can’t improve something that doesn’t exist, and you can’t ask customers for feedback on it either. This is the balancing act all businesses go through, but small businesses generally have better relationships with customers who give better feedback on what others would be willing to pay for it.

If you can do that, you get word-of-mouth advertising and promotion for your business, which is usually the cheapest form of marketing businesses can do.

Bad_News_Inception-network-can-help

Developing self-management skills

To finish off this topic, we get our network members to try improving their own plan you did to manage their workload and commitments completed in week 3 of our 14-week program. See if your plan has opportunities to develop and apply new ideas incorporated into your plan.

If not, or even if you do, add more time to do this into your plan. If you do this it is likely you will get offers for more work which you will need to make sure you have time for in your schedule if you accept a position.

Facilitating a climate in which creativity and innovation are accepted as an integral part of the way things are done in successful small businesses, for example:

  • build in time for idea creation and sharing,
  • deliberately look for the potential in ideas proposed by others,
  • especially when ideas do not seem immediately practical

These are examples of what would make you more suitable than others to work for a small business as not everyone has the right mindset to do this.

No matter if you are looking for employment or contract work on a project, having the skills to do this increase your earning capacity with small businesses.

If you have this on your resume or client testimonials it stands out in an interview, Which prospective clients do too before agreeing to pay you.

Even if you don’t think you have the experience (or are eligible to) apply for a position or start a business, this skill can still get you the gig.

If you are looking for help to improve your small business, book a free discovery call here.

Inception-small-business-coaching
Inception small business coaching and marketing done for you
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What is SEO, and how to do it

What-is-seo-and-how-to-use-it

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of optimizing (improving and enhancing) a website or online content to improve its visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). The goal of SEO is to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to a website from search engines through organic search results.

Techniques used in SEO include optimizing the website’s structure and content, as well as building backlinks from other websites to the site being optimized.

The problem is that most businesses don’t set their websites right from the start with the basics, so they need to do some work before they can start doing SEO.

You can’t improve something that does not yet exist, so before we look at doing SEO, let’s have a look at your website and see how you’ve set it up.

Optimizing the website’s structure and content

Optimizing a website’s structure and content refers to the process of making sure that the website is easily crawlable and understandable by search engines. This includes a variety of technical and content-related best practices.

Some ways to optimize the website structure include:

  • Using a clear and consistent navigation structure
  • Using a hierarchy of headings (e.g., H1, H2, H3)
  • Creating a sitemap (see below)
  • Making sure the website is mobile-friendly
  • Ensuring that the website is accessible to people with disabilities

In terms of content optimization, there are several best practices to follow, such as:

  • Using relevant keywords throughout the website’s content
  • Creating high-quality, unique and informative content
  • Using alt-text for images
  • Creating meta tags for the website’s pages
  • Writing interesting and compelling titles and descriptions for the website’s pages
  • Use structured data

By following these best practices, a website can be more easily indexed and understood by search engines, which can in turn improve the website’s visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).

It should be noted that SEO is an ever-evolving field, and changes in the algorithm of Search Engines could make some practices outdated, it’s important to keep updated with the latest trends and best practices.

Empty office waiting for clients
Empty office waiting for clients to arrive

how do you create a “sitemap” on a WordPress website

A sitemap is a file that lists all the pages on your website and is used by search engines to crawl and index your website more efficiently. There are several ways to create a sitemap for a WordPress website, including using a plugin or manually creating the file.

One popular method to create a sitemap on a WordPress website is to use a plugin, such as Google XML Sitemaps. Once the plugin is installed and activated, it will automatically create a sitemap of your website and update it as you add or remove content. This plugin also can ping the main search engines such as google, bing, yahoo and more for updating the crawler about the new content.

Another method to create a sitemap is by using online sitemap generator that can take your website url as input and generate a sitemap for it. Once you have the sitemap file, you can upload it to your website’s root directory and then you can submit it to search engines like Google Search Console.

It’s worth noting that many SEO plugins, like Yoast or All in One SEO includes the functionality of generating and updating sitemap for your website.

SEO processes SEO experts regularly use

There are many different SEO processes that SEO experts use to improve a website’s visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). Here are a few examples:

  1. Keyword research: Identifying the keywords and phrases that people are using to search for products or services similar to those offered on the website. These keywords are then used throughout the website’s content, meta tags, and URLs to help the site rank for those terms.
  2. On-page optimization: Optimizing various elements of the website, such as title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and content. This can include using relevant keywords, ensuring that the site is mobile-friendly, and making sure that the site is accessible to people with disabilities.
  3. Technical SEO: Analyzing and making sure that the website is technically sound and free of any errors that could prevent search engines from properly crawling and indexing the site. This can include implementing structured data (Schema.org) and making sure that the site is secure (by using HTTPS)
  4. Backlink building: Obtaining links from other websites to the site being optimized. This is an important factor in improving a website’s visibility and ranking as search engines use links as a way to measure the credibility of a website.
  5. Content creation: Creating high-quality, informative, and engaging content that is relevant to the target audience. This can include blog posts, articles, infographics, videos and more.
  6. Analytics tracking: Setting up and monitoring analytics tools, like Google Analytics, to track website traffic, bounce rate, time on site, and other data points to make informed decisions about website improvements.
  7. Monitoring and Reporting: Regular monitoring of the website’s progress, keep an eye on the SERP ranking and report back to the client or stakeholders.

Where do you go from here?

These are just a few examples of SEO processes that SEO experts might use to improve a website’s visibility and ranking. SEO is a ever-evolving field and SEO experts would have to keep updated with the latest trends and techniques.

This is why SEO is one of the things Small Business owners regularly outsource to marketing professionals, particularly if you use Google ads. If you don’t get the SEO basics right, Google doesn’t know exactly who to send to your website.

Even if you pay more for your ads, this won’t help you get sales if your website can’t convert them into clients, and you also waste more money on retargeting to people that are not your ideal clients.

Small Businesses can’t afford to do that.

If you’d like to know more about what you can do right now, you can book a free chat HERE.

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Steps to earning extra income now even if you have no money

The steps to starting a business and earning extra income

You may think startups are a young person’s game. However, there is a big difference between being a startup and starting a business.

Just like being an Entrepreneur, which is a buzz term with the kool kids who proudly wear the badge of being known as a startup business owner. For most successful Entrepreneurs, the first thing they generally do after they start a business is get someone else in to run it. In fact, research shows that 60% of new businesses are run by someone over 40 years old. It is a different skill set.

Our own research into who was interested in bootstrap startups revealed (surprisingly) that over 60% of our market for this was over 50 years (young), with the largest segment 65+. But when you think about the fact that last year in Australia, 200,000 retirees went back to flexible employment arrangements to get paid to do what they love, this was no surprise to us. Our network is full of them, and they are all willing to give back their experience to people their grandkids age as their own kids likely don’t listen to them.

Startup Group
Startup Group

What is a “bootstrap startup”?

Bootstrap startups are businesses that are started and run with little or no external funding. This means that the founders rely on their own resources, such as personal savings and revenue generated from the business, to finance the startup. Bootstrap startups are often attractive to entrepreneurs who want to maintain control over their business and avoid taking on debt or giving up equity to outside investors.

Many different types of people may be interested in bootstrap startups, including entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses, people who are looking for an alternative to traditional employment, and individuals who are looking to create a more flexible and independent lifestyle. Some people may also be attracted to bootstrap startups because they allow for more creativity and innovation, as the founders are not bound by the expectations or constraints of outside investors.

There are a few reasons why bootstrap startups may be becoming more popular. One reason is that the cost of starting a business has decreased in recent years due to advances in technology and the proliferation of tools and resources available to entrepreneurs. This has made it easier for people to start businesses on their own, without the need for significant external funding.

Another reason bootstrap startups are more popular.

Another reason is that the economic climate in recent years has made it more difficult for startups to secure funding from traditional sources such as venture capital firms or banks. This has led more entrepreneurs to consider alternative financing options, such as bootstrapping, to get their businesses off the ground.

Finally, the rise of the gig economy and the increasing popularity of flexible work arrangements have made it more attractive for people to start their own businesses, as it allows them to have more control over their work and personal lives. This has contributed to the popularity of bootstrap startups as a viable career option.

The steps to starting a business and earning extra income
The steps to starting a business and earning extra income

Where is the best place to start?

Having a strong online presence is important for businesses today, as more and more people are using the internet to find products and services.

Here are some tips for building a strong online presence:

  1. Build a website: Your website is the center of your online presence. Make sure it is well-designed, user-friendly, and up-to-date.
  2. Use social media: Set up accounts on relevant social media platforms and use them to connect with potential customers. Post regularly, interact with users, and share valuable content.
  3. Encourage online reviews: Online reviews can be a powerful way to attract new customers. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on your website, social media accounts, and review websites like Yelp and Google My Business.
  4. Use search engine optimization (SEO): Make sure your website is optimized for search engines so that it appears at the top of search results when people search for keywords related to your business.
  5. Use email marketing: Email marketing can be a powerful tool for reaching out to potential customers and keeping them informed about your business.

We recommend doing this as an 8 week campaign as part of a 3 month seasonal marketing strategy. It’s important to stick to the plan and let the campaign run its course. You do what’s called a 90 day reset, which given you a break and the opportunity to improve your strategy for the next 3 month.

But you don’t stop your marketing after 8 weeks. If you turn off your marketing machine, it is hard to start it up again. This is when do the things again that worked in the first 8 weeks to see if it is repeatable success. This is when you do you split test, or A/B tests, so you can improve the result and freshen up your content.

You keep doing what is working for you, and Include them in the next season’s marketing. Not everything will work, but it helps you build your customer focus and get repeat business, which is an important step to becoming a profitable business.

By following these tips, you can build a strong online presence that helps attract new customers and grow your sales.

Online-presence-help-done-for-small-business
Online-presence-help-done-for-small-business

Steps to improve your customer service right from startup

There are several steps that small businesses can take to focus on customer service:

  1. Set clear customer service goals: Clearly defined goals can help you stay focused on providing excellent customer service.
  2. Train your employees: Proper training can ensure that your employees are equipped to handle customer queries and concerns effectively.
  3. Foster a customer-centric culture: Encourage your employees to prioritize customer satisfaction in all interactions and make sure that they understand the importance of providing excellent customer service.
  4. Stay responsive: Respond to customer inquiries and complaints in a timely manner, and make sure that you follow up to ensure that their concerns have been addressed.
  5. Seek feedback: Ask your customers for their feedback on your products or services and use their input to make improvements.
  6. Be proactive: Anticipate customer needs and proactively offer assistance to make their experience with your business as seamless as possible.
  7. Show appreciation: Acknowledge and show appreciation for your customers. This can be as simple as thanking them for their business or offering them a discount on their next purchase.

By following these steps, your small business can focus on providing excellent customer service and build trust and loyalty with your customers.

Don’t think you can do this yourself? We hear that a lot.

No matter what your age the technology to do all this is very simple and user-friendly. You can book a free advice session, and tell us all the excuses you have for not doing what you love. Book a quick discovery call HERE and we can debunk the myths and get you on your way.