Small Business Diva

September 30, 2007

Announcing… new look business networking club

Filed under: Marketing Tips,Recommendations,Small Business,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 2:00 pm
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As some readers already know, the Small Business Diva (aka Donna-Marie) has been running co-ordinating monthly business women’s mornings in her local area, in Brisbane, Australia, since December 2005.

The group has grown so large that the existing format just wasn’t working as well as it could, so we now have a new name and a new format. Our monthly Coffee & Chat mornings are held on the second Wednesday of each month.

We will also be holding bi-monthly business building sessions with a series of excellent guest speakers lined up. I’m really looking forward to sharing some of their wealth of knowledge, hints and tips with you!

To find out more about the Coffee & Chat Club, business building sessions or our incredible value-for-money membership, please visit the JBSS Coffee & Chat Club. 

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September 28, 2007

10 ways to improve your audio recording quality

A few days ago I posted a blog about transcription – what it is, who uses it and in what circumstances.

An important thing to keep in mind is that the cost of having your recording typed up into document format varies greatly but as a general rule, the better the quality of your recording, the more affordable having it typed will be.

There are so many things you can do to improve the sound quality of your recording, things such as:

  1. speaking as clearly as possible
  2. making sure you are talking somewhere with little, if any, background noise (interviewing someone in a cafe setting is absolutely disastrous)
  3. do a practise recording first to test your volume settings and the positioning of your microphone
  4. avoid background noises such as dogs barking, telephones ringing, heavy traffic. If these noises occur or one of the speakers needs to cough or sneeze, pause speaking and, if necessary, repeat the last few words
  5. spell any difficult words, particularly names
  6. be aware of shuffling papers and clanking glasses/coffee cups while recording. Even though you will hardly notice the sound, the microphone will pick them up and it makes it more difficult for the transcriptionist to hear the words
  7. where there is more than one speaker, identify each speaker clearly
  8. avoid speaking over the top of one another and interrupting. In a group situation, the group leader should ensure that only one person speaks at a time and if necessary, ask speakers to repeat their comments made while others were talking
  9. speak loudly enough to be heard
  10. ensure that you have spare batteries for your recording device before you start recording

As a final note, I always suggest that people find a transcriptionist before they begin recording. Any professional service will be happy to go over these types of suggestions to ensure that you get the best possible quality recording, which will in turn make their job quicker and easier, thus costing you less $$!

September 26, 2007

Do you have what it takes to succeed?

Filed under: Small Business,Words of Wisdom & Inspiration — smallbusinessdiva @ 10:28 pm

I think George E. Allen was on the right track when he said this:

“People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit. Most men succeed because they are determined to.”
George E. Allen
1832-1907, Publisher and Author

What are your dreams? What do you know you can achieve not necessarily because of your ability but because of your determination; because you keep going when others would give up? 

September 23, 2007

Do school holidays and work-at-home-mums mix?

School holidays have just begun here in Queensland. I posted this on my personal blog early this year and it got some great feedback, so I thought I would share it with readers of the Small Business Diva too.

My baby is now in his teens and at high school (boy, I feel old saying that) so it’s really no more difficult to work when he’s home all day. In fact, I enjoy being able to sleep in a bit!!! In my case, the occasional, “Muuuuum… I’m hungry,” is dealt with by a simple reply of, “There’s the kitchen,” while pointing in the general direction of said kitchen. If he’s getting something yummy I’ll often follow up with, “I’ll have one too while you’re there,” or “Put the kettle on for me would you Darl?”

Okay, so I have it pretty easy, but it wasn’t always this way. He was little once – many, many sleeps ago – and I often have young nieces visiting for the holidays or, at one stage, young foster children here. School holidays always remind me of how difficult it can be juggling the ever-professional-business-Mum with Mum-of-kids-on-school-holidays.

I found the most important way to survive these times was to BE ORGANISED. To start with, mark the school holidays in your diary in advance and try not to schedule too many appointments during this time.

There are lots of ways you can involve your littlies in your business – help packing orders, sticking labels or stamps on envelopes, simple sorting. I also made a habit of keeping a miniature desk and chair near my desk, along with a toy phone and some simple stationery items (espcially a stapler and a hole punch – they love those!) That way the kids can be creative while playing ‘pretend’ workers too. I also kept my old computer at a desk in my office and my son would sometimes sit up there ‘doing his work’ with me. Of course, his work involved software such as MS Paint, PrintMaster Gold (card making – lots of graphics in that one) or a couple of Sesame Street games.

If you need to run errands, time these around your child’s needs so they are not tired and grumpy.

Where possible, try to arrange ‘kid-sharing’ with a friend or relative. On one day, you can look after their kids and just spend the day with them. The next day, the other person has the kids and you devote time to your work. Alternating outing days with home days can help reduce boredom too.

Try to avoid getting caught up with work for too long at a time. Kids may get resentful and play up just to get your attention. Where possible, alternate time with your kids and time in the office.

The most important thing is not to be too hard on yourself and your expectations. Remember WHY you’re working from home in the first place. In many cases it’s because you want to spend more time with your family (working in your slippers in just a bonus ).

What are your tips for balancing work/family during school holidays? I’d love to hear them.

September 21, 2007

Finally… a solution for kitty keyboards

Whenever I use the computer at my Mum’s home I have to fight the cats for the keyboard. They love nuzzling your hands, trying to encourage you to pat them, while you’re trying to type!

Finally… here’s a solution:

http://www.kittykeyboardkover.com/

Kitty Keyboard Kover in action

September 19, 2007

How can simply recording your work save you time?

Filed under: Office Organisation,Small Business,Time Management,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 12:30 pm

I was speaking with an associate of mine earlier today about transcription and who uses a transcription service. She was surprised at the number of ways this service could benefit others so I thought I would share some of these with you.

For those who don’t know much about transcription, that’s when you speak and record (dictate) your words for a transcriptionist to type and format for you. This service has been provided for many, many years with cassettes, then mini and micro cassettes. While these tape options are still available, digital recording is now the way to go. The quality of the recording is usually much clearer plus you don’t need to worry about the tape getting damaged or chewed up. Better still, the digital voice files (mp3, wav, etc) can simply be emailed to your transcriptionist or uploaded to a secure server for your transciptionist to retrieve which saves both time and money compared to having tapes couriered.

Once the audio file has been typed and formatted – usually as a Word document – it is simply emailed back to you. Easy!

This associate that I mentioned earlier thought that transcription services were only used by lawyers or high-profile business-people dictating their letters.

Not so! Here is a very brief list of some of the uses of transcription services:

  • doctors – letters, reports
  • lawyers/legal staff – various letters & reports
  • busy students – lecture notes & assignments
  • business people – various documents such as interviews, books, blogs (yes, even blogs!), letters, reports, critiques, manuscripts, seminars, presentations, conferences, articles, newsletters, market research, focus groups, plans… basically anything that needs to be written up.
  • people writing books, particularly historians, biographies and family history, or elderly people who want to tell their story.

There are so many ways… this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Another of the benefits of using a transcription service is the time saving. For example, if you have hours of audio to be typed and you need the completed document urgently, it may be physically impossible for you to type it all yourself. However, many professional transcriptionists are part of a larger team and the workload can easily be shared. With numerous people working on your files it will be much easier to meet your deadline. And don’t worry about the confidentiality side of things. Most professional transcriptionists will happily sign a confidentiality agreement and strictly adhere to these policies. Their business reputation is their livlihood.

There are various points to consider when sourcing a good transcriptionist plus many things you can do while recording to help reduce the cost of this service. I’ll post about these over the coming week along with what sort of equipment you need to get started.

Stay tuned…

September 18, 2007

Telling the tale

Filed under: Bits & Pieces — smallbusinessdiva @ 8:31 pm

It’s story telling time! Over at The Tall Poppy Anne has begun a meme as a bit of fun for bloggers and, as an avid writer I coudn’t resist joining in.

Here is the way it works:

1. Copy these instructions and the following paragraph into a post on your blog.

2. Read the story so far and add your sentence to it. It must make sense because this will eventually be a real story.

3. Add your blog link to the links listed. Every time a new sentence and blog link is added yours will receive some link love too.

4. The only rule is that no smutty sentences are allowed!

“Telling the Tale

I really don’t remember how we came to be here.  I am not sure that I really want to know!

However one thing that I do remember is that we followed a really bright light, that flashed every once in a while. We followed it blindly for some time and then when we came to a stop we were utterly amazed!”

Contributing Authors:

The Tall Poppy
Just Delete That.
madmadmummy

Small Business Diva

I hope you will join in the fun!  🙂

September 16, 2007

Something for Mothers

Filed under: Bits & Pieces,Juggling Work and Family,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 10:30 am

Just for fun, I thought I’d share this. I love it and am sure all parents can relate to this, not just mothers.

Enjoy!

September 14, 2007

WAHM – Worth More Than Rubies

Filed under: Juggling Work and Family,Recommendations,Small Business,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 8:30 pm

I thought those of you in Melbourne might be interested in attending the book launch for Worth More Than Rubies – the latest book by Kathie M. Thomas. I would love to be there however it’s a bit too far to travel from Brisbane for the evening.

For those who can make it, here are some more details:

Worth More Than Rubies book coverWorth More Than Rubies is about the desire of many women today to return home and care for their families, using their skills to contribute to the household income – yet this remains only a dream for many. 

Kathie gives women permission to return home and shares how she did exactly that, bringing up 5 daughters, while using skills she’d developed in the corporate world for over 20 years, to establish a new industry. She believes that women today can do what their ancestors did – work at home and care for the family, returning to old-fashioned values and using modern day skills. 

Concern for the welfare of our children, plus escalating costs of childcare make this book a ‘must read’ for all mothers who desire to work at home and be there for their families. 

Why not join Kathie for a drink to celebrate the launch of Worth More Than Rubies.  

Date: Thursday 20th September 
Time: 6.00pm
Venue: Dymocks Melbourne Cafe. 234 Collins St. Melbourne.
Cost: FREE EVENT but bookings essential

Book through Dymocks or for more info on the book, go to www.worth-more-than-rubies.com.

September 11, 2007

Business Mums Conference

Filed under: Juggling Work and Family,Recommendations,Small Business,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 3:35 pm

Last weekend I attended the inaugural Business Mums Conference in Melbourne, Australia. It took Herculean efforts for me to travel insterstate for almost 4 days, especially when I am so busy with work at the moment and have lots of family commitments (including a son in the middle of exams and assessments), and earlier this month I found myself wondering why I was going. As good as it sounded, it was just such an effort!

However, having made the effort I can honestly say that it was well worth it. The presentations, the other attendees, the business expo, the door prizes (I won a fabulous door prize from RealMums.com – yay!) Oh, and there was no shortage of food!

Time passed so quickly with a series of presentations and workshops on varying topics. Keynote Speaker Sandi Givens was just fantastic and is a true inspiration while Publicity Queen Sally Romano shared many specific examples and ideas to help get publicity for our businesses. Tash Hughes from Word Constructions spoke about the benefits of outsourcing, Lucie Battaini from multimediArt made website statistics fun and PJ from Acclique showed us how to manage our accounts simply! 

One of the greatest parts of the conference was meeting so many other women (and a few men) who are juggling family and a business, being able to share the challenges and joys along with our goals and visions.

I’ve been to four weekend conferences this year (the other three were in Brisbane and so were much easier to get to) and I have come away from each one feeling enthusiastic, energised and full of ideas. Plus I’ve met new people at each one and have developed both business relationships and friendships from each one. I’ve been gradually putting the new information into action and by keeping in touch with others I met, we are able to support and encourage each other. 

Next time you have the opportunity to attend a conference related to your business, please make the effort to get there. It is often challenging, especially if it’s on at the weekend, but the rewards can be so worthwhile.

If you are a parent in business or you know a parent in business, I strongly recommend you make the effort to attend next year’s Business Mums’ Conference.

September 8, 2007

How to combat procrastination once and for all

“You don’t have to be great to start. But you do have to start… to be great. When you believe in yourself and tell yourself, ‘I can do it,’ your confidence, motivation, determination and energy will all join together and propel you towards your goal.”

~ Zig Ziglar

I love that quote and live it almost every day. There are times when I have a task to do and I just can’t quite get the motivation to do it. You know what it’s like… you know you must write a letter to so-and-so but you don’t know where to begin. So you keep finding other things to do. You might even spend a whole day getting plenty of work done… but that letter is still waiting for you.

When I get like this, I just make myself do it. Do anything to get started. If it’s writing something, I just sit down and start writing – even if it’s just gobbledegook. I always find that within minutes, the words are flowing and the first draft is soon written.

If it’s some new project you want to tackle, begin by researching or talking to others who may be able to help. Find out what you need to do and if necessary, break it down into baby steps. (Remember the saying, How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.)

Just as Zig Ziglar claims, once you begin the task – no matter how small that beginning act it – you will soon gain the motivation, energy and desire to keep going because you’re so caught up in the moment. If you don’t do this already, just try it. You’ll be amazed at how much you will achieve.

September 6, 2007

The secret to success

Filed under: Bits & Pieces,Words of Wisdom & Inspiration,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 2:47 pm

I had this thought that I would like to write my own recipe… a Recipe for Success.

I began by speaking with others and asking people to share their opinions then did a bit of Googling – searching the Internet to see what ideas others had come up with. I was thinking along the lines of:

Recipe for Success

Ingredients: 2 parts passion, 1 part motivation, 2 parts drive and determination, a dash of insanity… mix it all together… top with a sprinkling of…

You get the idea.

Then I stumbled on this great article by Kate Ravilious at the UK’s Guardian titled The recipe for success: get happy and you will get ahead in life.

I think this is a great article. To sum it up briefly, it explains that studies show that those who are happy are generally more successful in life. This applies to nations as well as people – apparently those countries full of happy people are more likely to be successful too.

So there’s our proof – all the more reason to keep doing things we like, things that make us smile, laugh and generally feel good. Now how does that song go? “Come on get haaappy…” 

September 3, 2007

Business Mums Conference

Filed under: Juggling Work and Family,Recommendations,Small Business,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 8:14 am

For those of you in Australia, the inaugural Business Mums Conference is being held in Melbourne next weekend – 8th & 9th September. It is shaping up to be one heck of a conference with several fantastic speakers, forums, business expo and, of course, lots of great people to meet!

For more information, visit the Business Mums website. (Dad’s are welcome too!)

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