Small Business Diva

August 30, 2007

How to get the most value from your advertising dollar

Filed under: Marketing Tips,Recommendations,Small Business,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 7:37 am

I recently added an article to my website that I thought you might be interested in:

How to get the most value from your advertising dollar.

August 28, 2007

Time to stop multi-tasking

Filed under: Juggling Work and Family,Small Business,Time Management,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 5:19 pm

I remember when I worked for an employee in the late ’80s/early ’90s and the newest craze was “multi-tasking”. Everyone was doing it. No longer was a person responsible for a particular job; instead, each employee was being trained in all jobs classified at the same level. You would do 3 months in one job then everyone rotated and would spend the next 3 months in another job. This was so we could learn the benefits and joys of “multi-tasking”.  I hated it.

We would also pride ourselves on being able to work on several projects at one time.

Gone are those days. Well, in my office at least. Sure, I can still cook dinner while ironing clothes and replying to emails or returning phone calls… even with a toddler on my hip. But generally speaking, I’ve learnt the importance of focusing on one task/project at a time. By focusing 100% on the article I’m writing (or whatever task it is), that is the only thing that gets my attention. No checking emails whenever I hear the ‘ping’ of a new message arriving; no getting sidetracked on the net while researching; just 100% focus on the job at hand.

Similarly, when I am taking time off for family/personal reasons, I’m 100% focused on relaxing or playing games or whatever, not going off to my computer every couple of hours.

This isn’t always possible to do – sometimes you need to stop what you’re doing to deal with an urgent matter – but this focused attention is what really works for me.

If you are a multi-tasker, try to change that, even just for a trial period. You may be surprised by how well the “focused-tasking” works.

August 26, 2007

When things go wrong

Filed under: Words of Wisdom & Inspiration — smallbusinessdiva @ 11:52 am

I love this quote and wanted to share it with you:

“Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so that you can be all that you were intended to be.”

Charles “Tremendous” Jones (Speaker and Author)

Try to keep that thought in mind next time you’re facing some of life’s inevitable challenges. 🙂

August 24, 2007

What is a VA?

Filed under: Small Business,Time Management,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 1:34 pm

Whenever I’m out and about networking or speaking at workshops and the likes I usually mention the term ‘VA’ at least once and ALWAYS have people asking what a VA is.

A VA is a Virtual Assistant… and assistant who is not physically with you. I believe the term is more well known in the US but in Australia and many other countries, it’s a growing industry and many people aren’t yet aware of the term, the occupation nor how a VA can assist them.

Virtual Assistanting is becoming more and more popular as people grow aware of their existence… and thus more people are wanting to get into the profession too!

VAs usually specialise in particular areas and can help you with a huge range of tasks such as typing, transcription, bookkeeping, document preparation and presentation, writing, website design and/or maintenance, diary management, graphic design, customer management, email/telephone answering, database management, appointment setting and general office administration, along with many other duties. Phew! That’s just the beginning!

These tasks can usually be performed remotely so your VA doesn’t have to be in the same town as you… or even the same country! Many people take advantage of the time difference between countries too.  For example, a client in New York will email me notes at the end of her work day – which is the start of mine here in Australia. While she sleeps, I format and edit her notes and email them back to her. She arrives at work the next day and her job is complete – waiting in her inbox.

Utilising a VA can be perfect for solo-business operators, those who travel a lot and people who work from home. You don’t need to provide office space and equipment and are only paying for the time you use.

A great site to look at for more information is A Clayton’s Secretary. You will find lots of useful information on how a VA can benefit you or your organisation along with help starting your own VA business.

August 22, 2007

Business Award update

Filed under: Bits & Pieces,Small Business — smallbusinessdiva @ 1:33 pm

For those of you who were following my progress with the Business Achievers Award – Professional Services…

I found out today that my business – Jacaranda Business Support Services – is one of the Finalists!!! Yay!

There are two more stages of judging to go and the winner will be announced in October. Wish us luck? I’ll keep you all posted…

August 20, 2007

Tracking Client and Project Time

Filed under: Recommendations,Small Business,Time Management,Tips & Tricks — smallbusinessdiva @ 11:49 am

I am often asked to recommend a good free/cheap program for tracking time spent on client work and projects.

I like TimeStamp, as do many other professionals I know. It’s quick to download and easy to use. Best of all, you can keep it running in the background and it doesn’t interfere with other programs you’re running. 

At the time of posting this, TimeStamp is still free to download although a donation towards the site owner’s generosity is appreciated.

August 18, 2007

What do bumble bees and successful businesses have in common?

Filed under: Small Business,Words of Wisdom & Inspiration — smallbusinessdiva @ 8:34 pm

I’m not 100% sure if this is accurate but apparently because of the shape and general design of the bumble bee it is aeronamically impossible for it to fly… I guess nobody told the bumble bee.

This is similar to my philosophy in business and with life in general. I believe that sometimes you have to just go and do what you believe you must do. Don’t let the fact that it’s never been done before or is going to be a challenge stop you.

Lead the way and show how it can be done.

August 16, 2007

Blow your own trumpet

Filed under: Marketing Tips,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 10:07 pm

How many times have you heard that saying, Blow Your Own Trumpet? And how often do you do it?

I’ve had a similar conversation with three people this week, all about being able to stand up and proudly announce our achievements, and I know I’m guilty of not doing this myself.

Have you ever had some great achievement – you’ve just won an award, you’ve secured a meeting with a prospective client who you’ve been trying to meet for ages, you finally clear your in-tray, or maybe you’ve just secured some fantastic editorial in your nation’s largest newspaper. You’re sitting in your office. Alone. Nobody to share your excitement with (except maybe the cat or goldfish or your two-year-old who really couldn’t care less so long as they have your attention!) You phone your Mum or a friend who congratulates you with, “That’s nice dear. That should help when you finally decide to find yourself a real job,” (not that my Mum would ever do that – she’s very supportive).

These are the times when it can be easy to let the achievement pass almost unnoticed, especially if you’re a little on the shy side. But this is also the time when you really need to shout your win from the rooftops. Use it to gain more publicity or editorial for your business. Promote your achievements on your stationery or website if appropriate, and definitely blog about it!

From the three discussions I’ve had about this recently, they were all concerned that by announcing their win they were in some way big-noting themselves or trying to draw attention to themselves. Unless you’re naturally an arrogant person, most people won’t see your announcement that way. And as for drawing attention to yourself or your business… what’s wrong with that??? We all deserve to be recognised for our achievements and reaching our goals and milestones and I believe part of building relationships and being part of a successful networking group or forum is actually being able to share in others’ successes and give support and encouragement wherever possible. Who knows, perhaps you will then inspire others too.

So go on… share your success… let me know what achievements you’ve had this week, this month or this year.

Oh, and by the way… I’ll let you in on a secret… my business has just been nominated for the local Business Achievers Awards for the Professional Services category. Yippee!!!!!! (stay tuned to find out how I go 🙂 )

August 12, 2007

8 Random Things About Me

Filed under: Bits & Pieces — smallbusinessdiva @ 7:09 am

I’ve been tagged by Kathie Thomas of A Clayton’s Secretary, so here are 8 random things about me, Donna-Marie Coggins  🙂

1. I am the second eldest of four girls, no brothers.

2. I have a gorgeous son who turns 15 next weekend.

3. Before setting up my business in mid-1998 I spent 10 years working with Queensland’s National Parks and Wildlife Service, then as a Wildlife Education Officer with Wildlife For Kids (taking native animals around to schools, day-care centres and kindies).

4. Thanks to my work with wildlife, my son spent his first years of life sharing his home with various sick, injured and orphaned wildlife – ‘roos, koalas, possums, gliders, snakes and lizards and all manner of birds! I guess that’s where his love of animals and the environment began.

5. Like Kathie, I’m also a keen writer having just written my second book and writing articles for magazines, etc, whenever I can.

6. Late last year I was given a make-over on Australia’s A Current Affair TV show. (grimace) It was an awesome experience and I got to keep all the clothes that were designed for me.

7. I run monthly Business Women’s Mornings here in Brisbane, Australia.

8. In 2004 I was part of a 4-person team that won the Open iLab prize in the UQ Enterprize (University of Queensland business planning competition)

There now, that wasn’t too scary 🙂

 Now, I tag:

Beverley Neil

August 10, 2007

5 Free and Low Cost Marketing Tips

Filed under: Marketing Tips — smallbusinessdiva @ 6:00 am

I thought I would share with you a few of my tried and tested tips for free and low cost marketing for small businesses:

  1. Sponsor a local event or local charity.
  2. Offer to speak at local events, school associations or libraries.
  3. Donate prizes to competitions.
  4. Build strategic alliances with other businesses and co-host/co-sponsor events or seminars.
  5. Hold special pre-launch evenings that are only for VIP customers. Make them feel special, but also ask them to bring along a friend.

 If you would like more ideas, go to YourSmallBizExpert to download a copy of the free guide – 60 FREE and low cost ways to get your business noticed.

August 6, 2007

Who’s stealing your web content?

Filed under: Recommendations — smallbusinessdiva @ 6:00 am

Yesterday morning I began my day by checking emails while enjoying my morning wake-up coffee. There was a series of messages from members of an online group I’m with where one of the members had just found 3 websites that had copied content from her site. In one case, they copied the info from her ‘About Us’ page!

This prompted other members to check their sites by entering their URLs into www.copyscape.com. Then it came to light that a 3 or 4 others found part of their sites had been copied too… including me!!! To make matters worse, this person had come to me for help when they first began their business and I spent many, many hours helping them to get established, including referring several long-term clients to them.

After spending the morning fuming and upset that another business person could be so lazy, rude, unethical and several other adjectives that I won’t insert here, I decided that there’s no point in taking it personally. I’m sure this person was only thinking of themselves and they probably didn’t even think about me. Yes, I have been in touch with them to advise them of the situation and ask that they remove my information. And I was, I believe, professional in my request, taking into account that they perhaps didn’t realise that what they did is illegal and unethical, or that perhaps they didn’t even write it. Maybe it was written by a third party. We’ll see what happens there…

If you would like to know more about how to protect your web content, have a look at this VA Directory blog. It has detailed information including several great resources that are invaluable if you want to stay on top of this unfortunately not-so-rare occurrence of plagiarism.

August 4, 2007

Beating isolation when working from home

Filed under: Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 7:28 pm

When you work from home, particularly in a micro-business, it’s easy to feel isolated. If you live with others, at least you have conversation (hopefully!) for some part of the day. But often we become so engrossed in our work, perhaps not even taking regular breaks, that it’s easy to have little contact with others all day.

Some people simply can’t cope with this and will lose precious work hours chatting with friends as often as possible while others become somewhat reclusive, or at least feel that way. So it’s important to make sure you plan regular interaction with others throughout your working day.

Some tips I suggest are:

  • Make sure you get out of the house at least once each day, even if it’s just to check the PO Box or do the banking.
  • Join some local business and/or networking groups and make sure you attend AT LEAST one event each week.
  • Arrange to meet up for a drink or lunch with one (or several) business associates on a weekly basis.
  • If getting out to networking events is difficult for you or you live in a remote area, there are many great online networking groups, business groups and forums. For Australian businesses, The Business Mums Network is a fantastic group that I fully recommend. And despite the name, anyone in business is welcome to join.
  • If you want to find some online forums that might be suitable for you, just do a ‘google’ search for [your area of interest or industry or specialist] + forum.

Most importantly, don’t forget to take time out and socialise with friends now and then too.

August 2, 2007

Wise Words

Filed under: Words of Wisdom & Inspiration — smallbusinessdiva @ 4:44 pm

I was reading an article today about an 83-year-old lady, Helen Hadsell, and the story of her amazing writing, book sales and as yet unpublished autobiography. Apparently, Helen ends her autobiography with these wise words about life:

Make every day special

Share a joke, hum a song.

Pass some special joy along.

And if someone should come your way

who doesn’t share your joy today…

TO HELL WITH ‘EM!

Gotta love her!

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