Saturday, August 30, 2014

How To Set Goals You Can Reach

Setting goals is a common topic especially around each New Year but of course the best time to set goals and start making them happen is NOW. Learning how to set goals you can reach is vital.

Start With A Process

Have a process that will let you take the steps to help you achieve what you want. It seems odd but sometimes people set goals that they don’t want – because it will mean they have to give up something they won’t give up. And sometimes people set goals they achieve, without understanding that in getting that goal – they have put something else in jeopardy that they didn’t intend.

Ecology Is Important.

Ecology isn’t just about conditions in the environment. Our personal ecology - internally and how that creates action in our external environment – is important to remember. Be very clear and remember, just as you learned in high school science class – actions have equal and opposite reactions. For example ... You get in control of your weight – that might not please an insecure partner who shows love by giving you food.


Your alignment between your stated ambitions and your personal actions need to be aligned. When you are congruent in your thoughts and actions, you are on target to achieve your ambitions.
Get Your Unconscious Mind On The Job Too!

Congruency needs help from the less-than-conscious mind too. It is the You which breathes for you and goes on doing all the things on autopilot so you don’t have to worry about them happening on time.  Help train your unconscious mind to track opportunities and keep you on target by telling it exactly what you want in line with your goals and a great way to do that is to write your goals and creating a mind map or visual representation too is an even bigger help.

Put Your Goals Into Your Future

Take yourself forward to a time when you have achieved your goals. Picture what is happening in your life now that you have achieved them. What do you see, what do you feel, what has changed in your life now? What other things are you able to achieve beyond this now you have arrived here? Bring it to life in your imagination and feel it and see it and deepen the image and the feeling and you will know ‘when you get there’, and reach it next time for real.

Get Accustomed To Delaying Gratification

If you want to lose 50 pounds and you want to eat that chocolate bar, then you have a choice. Which impulse is going to win? The one you want or the one that you don’t bother to shutdown and choose and just let “happen”?  You may not know it, but you choose either way. If you choose the one you “don’t want” then guess what. You’re kidding yourself.  Make up your mind. If you want to pile on more weight (or whatever self sabotaging behaviour you pick) you are entitled to do so. Just own it, and don’t be pleading for sympathy while you sabotage yourself.  That short-term gratification is killing your chances of a gratifying life. But hey, it’s your choice.   Going without can seem like a punishment. Here’s news. Submitting to every impulse to feel good for the moment is the real punishment. You are what you ate. You are right now, living in the sum total of all the decisions you’ve ever made. If you would like something different for your life then your actions have to be different.

Give Yourself Some Treats

Mark your progress with some treats to show for your good habits. Make a list of things you have not done that you’d like to do and make them a part of your routine as a reward. Maybe a hike somewhere that you like or a drive to somewhere you don’t often get to for a weekend away.

Plan Goals For All Parts Of Your Life

Setting goals for only part of life can leave us neglecting other areas that  need to be in balance too. We can sometimes focus on just one thing, while we fail to see that other elements in our life are leaving us hungry for something we haven’t considered.

Think about making goals for all these areas:

Career or Business
Financial Wellbeing

Self Care

What would you like more of in these areas? What would you like less of?  What actions might you be taking in all these areas that you’ve not spent time on thinking about, but would enrich your relationships and your life in general, both now, and in the medium and longer term.

Summing Up

Remember ... we are all a work in progress.
That’s a good thing. It means that we hold the key to the future that is most in line with what we’d really prefer. Knowing ourselves well, helps us know what that is.

If you have some thoughts you'd like to share please add your comment.

And if you'd like a copy of the worksheet to go with this post go here

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Social Media Content Optimization Survey Results And What They Mean For You!

Here's What Marketers Are REALLY Doing With Social Media!

Recently I retweeted a post with results of a survey done to measure business responses to issues around social media. The purpose of the survey, was to better understand which strategies marketers are currently using to optimize social media content (and to gauge the effectiveness of these strategies) Software Advice, a social CRM consultancy group, partnered with Adobe to create the first-ever Social Media Content Optimization Survey.

I thought this survey was worth looking at in a bit closer detail.  When it comes to businesses using social media to promote what they do, we have a wide range of businesses from the micro-business working out of home to big businesses with fancy budgets and a whole team of people dedicated to running the social media marketing. Getting some insight into what other marketers are doing can give us a kind of benchmark to compare our own activities against and perhaps see some things we are not doing that could be beneficial to include. 

Planning Ahead Can Save Time On Social Media And Make Us More Efficient

While social media is not about broadcasting and does require an effort to engage with people, scheduling critical posts can be an effective way of getting the timing right and in effect, being 'in two places at once'. There are applications that can allow us to schedule posts and selectively send the right post to the appropriate platform.  

Some people push the same posts out to all platforms at once. Personally, I don't find that a good method since whenever I see that from someone I follow in different platforms, I do make a judgment about their judgment and it isn't usually favourable. Different platforms have different settings on what is appropriate. Sure that fun post on Facebook might be hilarious - but it might not be suitable for posting on Linkedin.  Similarly, something just right for connections on Linkedin, might be just too dry for Facebook. 

Those using applications that show their branding on posts, just tell me the person is not spending time to post to me on that platform, so why should I spend my time to read the thing they didn't see worthwhile spending their time on to show me? 

Nevertheless, by using it well, scheduling can mean that the most important (to us) posts - those we write ourselves or relate to an offer we are making, etc can be loaded up in advance and in a rotation that is getting those posts out there on time and letting us spend the time that we do have to be online, in a more social and sociable way, engaging and responding and sharing other quality information that makes our activity feed more interesting for those following, and not all about us. 

Scheduling posts - how long before posting social media updates are posts set up on a schedule?

Scheduling - how many posts scheduled in advance?

As you can see very few are scheduling a month or longer ahead. To do that would require a paid application but essentially could be a good thing to consider doing. If you have a lot of evergreen posts - posts that are not time sensitive and provide some kind of useful information to the people you want to reach, by scheduling a month ahead you would be planning the order of posts and the spread of posts to incorporate all of those evergreen posts, so they all get an outing on a semi regular basis.  That doesn't always happen if you are scheduling just a few days at a time.

Evergreen posts are worth mentioning, and are the lifeblood of your business blog. Evergreen posts will be the accumulated wisdom that you have to show and be a worthwhile body of work for readers to access who have an interest in your topic.

Here's the thing. We hope that people will interrupt their day to read our posts - so it is incumbent on us to make that time they give us, time well spent. Be known for writing quality posts that relate to what they promise in the headline. That way people stay willing to click on your posts - instead of being 'burned' by posts promising one thing and for the reader, clicking on the link, turning out to have been a waste of their time.

What's The Purpose of Your Social Media Activity?

Why post to social media for your business? Goals for social media 

Some people think posting to social media is all about leads. Leads are not sales and leads are not always the only or even most desirable thing to come from your activities on social media.  Imagine you get leads and they are for some minor thing you sell, not the main product you want to sell.  That's not what you want. Ultimately you want sales and to get sales you need credibility and visibility. So your content needs to work towards building credibility which leads to trust and to selling the thing you do want to sell. 

Social media marketing is like a good healthy approach to eating. Not a crash diet.  

As you can see in this result, the marketers surveyed had a range of goals for their posting and activity, with a variety of results. We cannot tell from this why some experienced success while others didn't but it is reasonable to assume that it related to both the content, the context and perhaps how realistic the expectations were, of the marketers. 

Posting a few low quality posts to social media platforms is not going to return any investment. You need to actually invest in the process before you can expect return.   This is something that is often not well understood by business owners. Before you have an audience that loves your content and wants to share it and act on what you say ... you need to create the environment and build that group of followers - or you have nobody to see what you post anyway! 

That takes time and investment. But here's the thing. Unlike all your advertising that stops playing once the TV or radio commercial is over, or the newspaper is out of date - your social media footprint has a life. It stays and grows over time and when done right, it endures and doesn't go stale. 

Types of Content Posted 

Content posted to social media platforms, and perceived importance to marketers

Some great hints here at the context and thinking that marketers have going on when composing their posts and HOW they will set them up. This is part of the process that business owners often don't appreciate. They see the post on their feed, but don't understand that it is a lot like the duck on the pond. It just looks like a duck calmly sitting on the pond but underneath, where you don't see, there is a lot of activity going on!

That's why 'learning as you go' can be the most expensive way to do social media for your business. Without that stuff you can't see... you will get nowhere.

Because we don't know what we don't know and when we start learning about social media marketing we don't know how much there is to know that is outside of our thinking.  Business owners easily fall into the trap of thinking that because someone is young and post party pictures on Facebook that they also know how to market online.  That's a costly fallacy to believe.

Importance of understanding how social works and testing what we think we know
I would read this to say that the marketers undertaking the difficult and demanding issues around verifying what is happening and developing a scientific process to their marketing, are the ones who are doing it.

If you are not doing it then you're guessing. Guessing is usually not so useful in business as Knowing. That's how we learn and develop expertise in any subject.

Is Social Media Just Too Hard For Business? 

How hard is it for businesses posting to social media?

The marketers who are finding social media relatively easy, could be those who fully understand what they are doing, why they are doing it and have the skills to put that all together to generate the right kind of quality content they know - because they have tested it - what works. 

Or they could be posting cat meme pictures to Facebook and thinking that this is marketing... 

The greater likelihood is that the other group of marketers who don't find it easy are like most businesses with no real plan for what they are doing and no way to gauge the usefulness of their activity. You know... Much like people still buying Yellow Pages ads for years without having been measuring any sales that result. 

What's not in the statistics are those businesses - and there are many, many of them, who are not even online much less actively using social media.  While that's the case it makes it much easier for businesses to get online and get that toehold on prime location on Google for what they do and where they do it. That's a fantastic opportunity at the moment, for anyone serious about making the best choices for their business.

Social Media Marketing: There's A Tool For That! 

 Do people think tools make it easier for business to post to social media?

We see here where those not using tools, underestimate the value of using tools with their social media and so are putting themselves under more stress and possibly spending more time for poorer results as a consequence. 

For those using tools and still finding it difficult, they could be new to the tools, or more likely, have not been well trained in how to use them and how to gain a personal advantage by using them well. That's a common situation in too many businesses - owners will pay for the tool but fail to pay for the training so it can be used to do the thing the tool was bought to do. 

Who Is The Social Media Marketer In The Business?

Survey respondents do these jobs in their business
This is quite an interesting data set. We can't know but we might suspect that some of these Owners, Managers and Directors could be the same. Small business owners use these titles interchangeably, but those in corporate jobs are easier to spot.

Having a dedicated staff or contractors doing the bulk of the work for the business when it comes to managing social media makes a lot of sense. This should be in collaboration with the owner or director's goals and working closely to monitor performance, devising a strategy and testing and tweaking where necessary to improve results, consistent with the original purpose.

The Real Purpose Of Social Media For Business

Social media marketing is - and should be - integral to the rest of the business and the outreach function for the business to draw in and engage with customers and encourage and make it easy for new customers to find the business. That's a full time job getting that right. The business owner, manager and director, or the C-Suite probably have other things they could be focusing on, that nobody else can be delegated to do for the business.

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Lindy Asimus Works with business owners to help them improve the business, the owners' personal communication and people skills and get their business found online. Client enquiries welcome

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Are Your Business Advisors Telling You All You Need To Know To Keep You Safe?

Small business owners face many challenges when running their day-to-day operations.

Being profitable, of course, is the objective in delivering their goods and services and businesses have a range of costs associated with the running of that business.

Some expenses that businesses need to cover are easy to see - things like rent and plant and equipment, wages for employees, costs for utilities, fuel and vehicles etc. The list seems to go on and on.

These costs are a basic part of running a business. Other costs are less easy to see the value in but are necessary for the business to go. Insurances, professional fees, payments to advisors and external service providers, and marketing.

To look for ways to not spend the money on them would be like buying a car ... but not being willing to pay for fuel to make the car go.

What is often less well appreciated is the cost that businesses can face if they miss out on keeping their compliance obligations met and up-to-date.

While many businesses may have an attitude that desires the business to be a safe workplace, many small businesses particularly, are not well organised when it comes to documenting the procedures and policies they need to make a standard part of "how we work".

These procedures can seem like an unnecessary complication for businesses which don't have staff allocated or even the skills and time necessary to undertake this role. And very few businesses have even assigned set roles and responsibilities in a formal way, detailing all the tasks that are carried out in the business.

If there is no guide to tasks, it follows there is no procedure for them and no training standard for that task... no documented safety protocols for all the jobs that get done.

This is problematic in several ways.

Firstly, without accounting for every task, new staff can be left without a concise standard to use when carrying out their work.  Which means that the owner of the business can be left dissatisfied with their performance.

These gaps in documented procedures mean that there is potential for gaps in training. That can lead to gaps in safety protocols being maintained. This lack of standard in how work gets done may go on without a problem for a long time. When they show up typically, is when there is an accident.

When that happens, the business faces two problems: The accident itself and all of the repercussions that flow from this; and no way to prove that the business was aware of and followed good safety practices.

Secondly the business can be exposed to financial penalties, increases in workers compensation costs and legal action from the person injured.

This is an issue that is as much risk management responsibility, as it is a potential threat to the profitability of the business,

Getting caught up in such an incident on the job can affect the bottom-line of the business,  the reputation of the business and open up the business to months or years of disruption and stress for the business owner and the injured employee.

Another aspect of this lack of documented procedures and standards is that the business may be locked our of opportunities to bid for work that they could do profitably, but are unable to tender for because they don't meet the requirements for the job due to their lack of procedural documentation and systems for the workplace.

This can be a handbrake on the progress the business could be making and costing the business significant profit not realized.

Advisors - Your Duty Of Care 

 One would hope that Accountants working with small businesses would be making clients aware of their obligations around these issues and reviewing the needs of the business regularly to ensure that they were not exposing the business to unnecessary risk.

Unfortunately this doesn't always happen.

For those who are working with small businesses part of our role should be to ensure that any issues we notice may not be happening in the business, should be made clear to the client.  If the small business owner chooses to ignore that information then that is up to them, to accept that risk.

When we work with businesses and fail to communicate the issues that we see are a problem, we let our clients down.  They often believe that if there is something amiss in the business, that their advisors will surely let them know. They are well entitled to think that would be the case. Sadly, it often is not.

If the client buys a website they should be able to assume that the website is capable of doing the thing they bought it to do. Many, many don't.

If the client has an accountant who sees that there is insufficient money being allocated for fundamental expenses, they would draw attention to this. Many, many don't.

Those professionals who do work with small business need to have a selection of good people around them who are committed to serving the client with all care and due diligence in their dealings and who can do what they profess to do, in getting the client into the best position possible for that area of their business.

Accountants can be directing small business clients to help with accessing industry standard procedures that can be customised for the business, help with promoting the business and providing good strategy for marketing, and so on and so forth, for all the different segments of the business.

The Good News For Accountants Is Good News For Business Too

When working with businesses actively and showing the care and attention to detail that you would want in your own business, you become a value to the business, not a cost. And in so doing, assist your business clients to avoid unnecessary costs, be able to access good opportunities and grow the business in a sustainable way, while developing the business as an asset that is optimal for pricing when the time comes that they might want to sell.

 Accountants - If you don't have a plan to make a strong network of associates to whom you can actively refer, then this is a good time to develop this as a strategy as part of your business plan. Just "anyone" won't do. Without driving it, that network just won't work. Hire someone to drive it for you as their primary objective.

Business owners - Review the service that you get from your business advisors and service providers. Are they proactive in letting you know what you need? Are they giving you the quality attention you need to make the best you can from your business?

We put our heart and soul into building a business - and our financial security too.  That's a huge commitment and we need all the help we can get. Make sure you are surrounding yourself with service providers who take an interest in your success and the health of your business too.

Not all businesses work from the same ethical perspective. Some advisors just want to be in a transactional relationship with clients, just do the thing they do now and not stretch themselves to be of more value to clients. In the workforce, this is known as "presenteeism" - unlike absenteeism, the employee is at work, even if they are not doing much more than they absolutely have to, to keep their job.  So too it is with service providers.

When you have identified your trusted advisors for your business, it is up to you as the business owner with the wellbeing of the business in mind, to listen to their advice and act on recommendations that keep your business safe. Whether that be safety procedures or other risk management issues, or business development processes.

We must choose the kind of business we want to work with, and the kind of business we want to either be... or become.

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