Small Business Diva

July 29, 2008

What Difference Does A Font Make?

Filed under: Communication,Small Business,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 4:27 pm
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Three people this week have asked my opinion on what font is best for a particular project so I thought I would share some of the basics of fonts with you – which type to use when.

Very generally, for documents that will be read from a printed medium – flyer, magazine, newspaper – a serif font such as Times New Roman, Courier or Georgia is best. Serif fonts are the ones where each letter has little ‘feet’.

For documents that are more likely to be read on a computer – websites, ebooks, blogs, emails – sans serif (without feet) fonts such as Arial, Verdana and Tahoma are the best. Serif fonts on a computer screen can tend to look a little blurry and people with less than perfect eyesight may have trouble reading them.

Of course, sometimes you will want a specific font that matches your style, brand and image. Generally, cursive fonts such as Monotype Corsiva will be considered elegant; handwriting fonts such as Kristen or Lucida Handwriting give a fun, child-like feel; fonts that lean to the right imply something that is fast or energetic; Comic Sans is something more relaxed or fun; strong bold fonts such as Impact or Broadway imply… well, bold or impacting.

There are no hard and fast rules but these are more general guidelines that seem to be universally accepted.

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie

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July 24, 2008

What Can We Learn From The Founder Of Mrs. Fields Cookies?

Filed under: Words of Wisdom & Inspiration — smallbusinessdiva @ 6:36 pm
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“The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.”

Debbi Fields
Founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies

July 21, 2008

Another Favourite Business Book

Filed under: Book Reviews,Juggling Work and Family,Small Business,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 12:19 pm
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Over the weekend I decided to re-read one of my favourite business books – an oldie but a goodie, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About it by Michael Gerber.

I must admit, this is one of those books that I don’t think I will ever tire of reading. It contains so many good ideas that I make a point of going over it every year or so.

In The E-Myth Revisited Michael explains that there are fundamentally three different ‘hats’ that a business owner will wear – the Entrepreneur, the Manager and the Technician. In other words, the business owner – the person who has all the ideas and sees the big picture; the business manager – the one who implements the ideas and sees that everything is running smoothly; and the mechanic who makes the products or provides the services.

As new business owners we often try to fill all three roles ourselves, but in reality we’re not doing ourselves or our business dreams any justice in doing this. We need to determine which of the three roles we are best suited to and then source partners, staff, contractors… others who can help fill the other two roles. Often it is necessary for a start-up micro-business to fill all of these roles initially however it’s a good idea to do so with a plan in place to fill the other roles as you are able to.

This book also talks about the importance of having systems in place so your business runs like a well-oiled machine and he outlines ways to help develop your venture into a turn-key business.

There are other topics mentioned in this book such as the various stages of business growth, however the two points mentioned above would have to be the main points that I have taken from The E-Myth Revisited.

In case you hadn’t already figured, The E-Myth Revisited is a book that I highly recommend every business owner or prospective business owner read at least once.

Not everyone will want their business to operate like Michael Gerber’s suggested model but it’s certainly worthwhile knowing this information.

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie

July 17, 2008

The Value Of Using Powerful Words

Filed under: Communication,Small Business,Tips & Tricks — smallbusinessdiva @ 2:59 pm
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There is a great post on the Write Powerful Resumes blog about using powerful words  to bring your resume to life.

The example given is excellent:

“There is nothing worse than saying:

– Achieved strong results due to strong ability to assess situations and utilise strong relationship skills.

Even though only two words have been changed, look at how much more powerful and interesting this next sentence is.

– Achieved outstanding results due to innate ability to assess situations and utilise strong relationship skills.”

These tips are not only useful when writing resumes but are also valuable across all types of writing. Within my business I use my thesaurus often. I also have a ‘swipe file’ of suggestions for alternate words and phrases.

It’s amazing how simply changing a few words here and there can make such a huge improvement to the quality of the text.

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie

July 11, 2008

How To Have A Lifestyle In Business

Would you like to discover how to have a lifestyle in business?

What if there was a recipe for having a lifestyle in business… a step by step way to increase your profits and the outcome was enjoying a lifestyle with an abundance of time and money? There is such a recipe, which has virtually been a secret until now. A few have discovered it, and those who have are enjoying astounding time and money benefits.

James McNamara, founder of Impact Factory, will be sharing 5 Ways To Build Your Profits And Free Up Your Time at the Business Growth Session in Brisbane, Australia, on July 30th.

James McNamara

James McNamara

Full details are available here – bookings are essential. If you are in Brisbane, I hope you can join us.

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie

July 9, 2008

Are All Business Mums This Helpful?

Filed under: Bits & Pieces,Small Business,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 6:34 pm
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The Business Mums Network is holding their second annual Business Mums Conference in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend – July 12th and 13th. In a wonderful gesture of generosity and appreciation for what she gained from last year’s conference, Kylie Short from Tilda Virtual Services (and Business Mums member) kindly offered a Big Girls Boots Scholarship for someone deserving to attend the conference.

In a similarly generous statement, Lucie Battaini from MultimediART also paid another member to help her to be able to attend this weekend’s conference.

I think these two ladies have demonstrated wonderful acts of generosity and I know the recipients of their gifts are incredibly grateful.

In another act of generosity, I checked my mail today to discover a lovely gift – a bottle of wine from Mandy Stevens of Direct Digital. This was a ‘thank you’ gift for something I helped Mandy with last week – something that was very simple for me to do and really didn’t require any form of payment or thanks. Receiving the gift has really made my day (and will be very much enjoyed!) – THANK YOU! And yes, Mandy is also a Business Mum.

Here’s to your success in business,

Donna-Marie

July 3, 2008

Business Networking In Brisbane’s Bayside

Many of you who live in Brisbane, Australia, know about the Business Coffee & Chat Mornings and Business Growth Sessions I organise on the north side of Brisbane.

Due to popular request we now have a bayside Coffee & Chat Morning too. Full details can be found on the website. We meet at Victoria Point on the second Tuesday of each month and at Everton Park on the second Wednesday of each month.

If you’re in Brisbane and have a small business or are thinking of starting a business, why not join us? This is a great way to associate with other local business owners, forming lasting alliances and a strong support network. If you work from home, this is a great way to get out of the house and meet other like-minded people.

Here’s to your success in business,

Donna-Marie

June 30, 2008

The Power Of Samples II – Blue Zamboo Sample Boxes

Filed under: Marketing Tips,Small Business — smallbusinessdiva @ 10:08 am
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I have previously written here about the Power of Samples as part of a business’ marketing plan. While reading the My Day Off blog I recently came across a great idea – the Blue Zamboo Sample Boxes.

For just $19.99 + postage, you can purchase a Blue Zamboo Sample Box with a selection of samples from companies such as Beauty Banquet, Dream Candles, Cool Things, Princess Chic and more!

This is a great way to trial products (and it would make for a nice gift for someone too).

Here’s to your success in business,

Donna-Marie

June 27, 2008

Should You Hire Friends Or Relatives?

As you enjoy more success in small business, or you look for trustworthy and reliable partners for your venture, it might seem logical to look to those you rely on the most in your private life; often it seems that that the right thing to do is to help those who’ve been with your throughout the ups and downs of life, or to help those who’ve helped you.  However hiring friends and family is not always a good move for you—either for you personally or for your business.  Before you commit to it, you should consider some very important aspects of working with family and friends.

Strong Personal Relationships Are Not Guarantees Of Compatible Working Relationships

Just because you get along well at home and in your personal life does not mean that you will get along equally as well with friends and family once you enter into a working relationship with them.  Often the additional time spent together becomes a strain, even for married couples who’ve been together for years.  There is definitely something to be said for time apart and individual interests for friends and family.

New roles also cause tension between friends and family that start working together. It can be very difficult for your sibling, parent, relative, friend, or spouse to respect you as a boss, and even difficult for you to feel comfortable “bossing” them, regardless of how equitable an employer you may be.

Choosing The Right Person For The Job

Something else that is crucial to consider is how well suited or qualified your friend or family member is for the position he or she will hold.  Being a nice person or a deserving person does not make you qualified for a job—experience and expertise do that.  And putting an under-qualified person in a position could be detrimental to your company; it could be a liability, too.

Ultimately success in small business will depend on the abilities of qualified staff.  If you place the wrong person in a job that they do not perform well, you could very well have no business left to support any one of you!

Preventing And Managing Disagreements And Difficulties

Managing disagreements starts with prevention.  And that starts from the very beginning of the partnership or employment arrangement.

If you are entering into a business partnership with friends or family, you must clearly define the relationship, roles, and responsibilities ahead of time.  You should draft an agreement (preferably with the help of a solicitor or legal representative) that outlines who is responsible for what, who gets what percentages of profits, what happens in the event of a disagreement or business failure, and what the rights of each of you are.

If you are employing family and friends you will need to clearly define roles and responsibilities as well as the structure and hierarchy of the business.  Construct clear policies and expectations, and hold each person accountable as you would any other employee.  Be clear from the beginning that respect is a must, and that you will expect to be treated as any other employer would be and that in return you will be a respectful and fair employer.

At its best working with family and friends can be a very rewarding experience.  At its worst it can be detrimental to business and personal relationships.  Give strong thought to whether the arrangement is workable for you, and maximise the situation by being clear and open from the start.

Here’s to your success in business,

Donna-Marie

June 20, 2008

The Difference Between Winners And Losers

Filed under: Words of Wisdom & Inspiration — smallbusinessdiva @ 12:07 pm
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“How we deal with adversity shapes our lives more than almost anything else.  Achievers usually see problems as transitory, while those who fail usually see even the smallest problem as everlasting.”

Anthony Robbins, Speaker and Author  

Everyone has their problems – I truly believe that we are never given any challenge that we can’t handle. I also believe that it is how we handle these challenges that defines who we are.

Next time you are faced with some sort of problem, try to see it as an opportunity to improve… a chance to see what you’re really made of.

Someone once told me that winners actually fail more often than losers… because winners pick themselves up and try again, then keep trying. Losers just give up.

Here’s to your success in business,
Donna-Marie

 

June 17, 2008

Helpful Ways To Remember User IDs And Passwords

Filed under: Office Organisation,Small Business,Tips & Tricks,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 7:44 pm
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Do you get sick of trying to remember all those passwords and user ids? I think I add a new one to the list every single day.

A great piece of software to help store all of these important details – securely – is Roboform. It’s free to download and not only securely stores your user names, passwords and other basic information for filling in forms (eg your name, address, company name), but once they’re stored, with just a simple click or two on your toolbar you can enter your login details for that particular site.

If you’re not keen on installing software on your computer, the girls over at A Good Sort have a great idea for how to manually store your user ids and passwords.

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie

June 11, 2008

Useful Website

Filed under: Small Business,Time Management,Tips & Tricks,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 6:10 pm
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Browser Shots is a great website to visit when you want to see how your website is viewed on different browsers.

Simply go to the site… type in your URL… select the browsers you’d like to get an overview of… click on ‘submit’ and wait for a minute or two. You’ll get an overview of how your webpage is seen by user’s of the various different browsers.

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie

June 9, 2008

What Do You Do When Someone Is Disappointed In Your Product Or Service?

Filed under: Marketing Tips,Small Business — smallbusinessdiva @ 6:04 pm
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While reading the Pink Heels blog I came across a post about Jennifer’s disappointment with the Wii Fit Yoga. Reading this made me think… what do you do when someone expresses their disappointment in a product of service you provide?

Some businesses will offer a refund, others will apologise that the buyer was unhappy (note – not necessarily apologise for the product). Then, when the customer has left, they may dismiss the matter entirely.

If someone expresses their disappointment in one of your products or services, by all means do what you can to rectify the situation and build your customer relationship. But after that, don’t take it to heart nor dismiss the dissatisfaction. Seize this opportunity to learn and improve.

First, is the customer’s dissatisfaction warranted? Have other people made the same statement? Have others asked for a refund?

Then it’s important to look at how you can use this feedback to make sure the mistake doesn’t occur again (if in fact there was a mistake made) or to improve your product or service.

In the case of Jennifer’s feedback, if the maker’s of Wii Fit Yoga were to read this post, how would they react? It would definitely be worth their while to take that feedback on board and look at how they can improve the Wii Fit Yoga, thanking Jennifer for her valuable feedback.

By doing this, you are not only showing your customers that you are listening to them, but you’re also ensuring that you provide a high quality product.

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie

June 6, 2008

Friday Words Of Wisdom…

Filed under: Words of Wisdom & Inspiration — smallbusinessdiva @ 1:00 pm
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Here’s another quote that I love… and a philosophy I try to live by.

“Really big people are, above everything else, courteous, considerate and generous – not just to some people in some circumstances – but to everyone all the time.” 
Thomas J. Watson, 1874-1956, Founder of IBM

June 2, 2008

Do You Keep Up With Your Blogroll Friends?

Filed under: Office Organisation,Recommendations,Time Management,Tips & Tricks,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 11:58 am

This is a question raised by Elena at her EP Designs blog – some people have a blogroll list so long a kangaroo couldn’t jump over it… do they actually keep up with those blogging friends? Do they regularly read their posts and comment on them?

Well, I must admit that I’m one of those people. I don’t have all my favourite blogs listed on my blog because there’s just too many of them. And yes, I do like to keep up with them all (although I must admit, never as often as I’d like). 

Late last year I found myself really struggling to keep up with them all, clicking from one blog to another. Then I spent an hour or so and subscribed to all my favourite blogs. If you haven’t already done this, I highly recommend you do. You can use a simple program like Bloglines or Feedburner. Add all your favourites and then just log in there each day or each week. You can see all the new posts since your last visit and read them in one place. If you want to comment on anything, you can easily do that too.

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie

 

May 30, 2008

It’s All In The Location

Filed under: Juggling Work and Family,Small Business,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 10:52 am
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In business, it’s often said that the ‘location is everything’… and in many cases, that can be true.

However with the wonderful technology we have available to us today, working from home is becoming more and more popular… and practical.

For many, working from home is the ideal choice. While this sounds great at first, it’s not always practical and not everyone is disciplined enough to do this successfully.

To decide if this is a suitable option for you, first consider:

  • The age of your children, if you have them (this may work for or against a home-based business)
  • How disciplined you are
  • Whether you have enough space
  • How your family feels about this
  • What the Council regulations are
  • If you will be employing staff and if so, if you are prepared for them to be in your home
  • Whether you will have customers visiting and if so, can you suitably maintain your home? Do you have enough parking available?
  • Whether you will affect your neighbours
  • Whether you will have any hazardous chemicals on the property or excessive noise
  • Whether you will be creating extra waste and if so, how you will deal with that
  • What implications this will bring regarding security issues, insurance, clients visiting after-hours
  • If you’re renting your home, will your landlord allow you to run this business from home?
  • Do you need to be easily seen by customers or can you operate ‘virtually’ – over the internet/mail?

Mind you, just because things don’t look 100% rosy once you’ve been through this list doesn’t mean working from home is not an option for you. If you can’t have customers visiting for some reason, you may choose to offer a free delivery service, making sure you factor this cost into your pricing. Cafés are also great place to arrange meetings.

If you decide that working from home isn’t for you, make sure you read more information on how to choose the right location for your business, including things you should be sure of before signing any lease or contracts!

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie

May 26, 2008

You Too Can Be The Change

Filed under: Words of Wisdom & Inspiration — smallbusinessdiva @ 1:58 pm
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I love to hear stories of how average, ordinary people do the most amazing things. You know… the rags to riches stories or the singer who becomes an overnight success (after 10 years of struggling to be heard!). To me, they are inspiration that any of us can achieve our dreams.

Here’s a really encouraging video I’d like to share with you… a video that shows how the efforts of just one small person can make a huge difference. 

Quoting from The Modern Goddess’ blog post, Be The Change:

“In celebration of India’s 60th year of independence, the Times of India launched an initiative to inspire the search for hidden talents in everyday people. Among the results is this two-minute video, “Tree,” which has become an anthem for India–and is a must-see for all of us.”

I encourage you to visit this post and watch the video.

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie

May 23, 2008

A Way With Words

Filed under: Book Reviews,Recommendations — smallbusinessdiva @ 10:45 am
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A dear friend of mine, Leonie Featherstone, has just published a fantastic book, A Way With Words… Release the Genie Within.

If you’ve ever found yourself staring blankly at the inside of a card, wondering how to put your thoughts and feelings into words… then this is the book for you.

Leonie has filled this book with verses for us to use when we’re writing inside cards… from birthday wishes to christening; moving house to bereavement; even words to say ‘thank you’ for friendship or guidance. Plus, there are lists of verbs and adjectives at the back of the book to help you to change some of the words in the suggested verses to something that seems more appropriate for the person you are writing for. Leonie’s thought of everything here!

The best thing about it for me is that they’re the type of words that I can see myself using.

A Way With Words

If you’re interested in this book, please email Leonie. It’s only $19.95 (AUD) + $2.50 for postage and packaging of one book in Australia. It makes a great gift idea too.

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie 

May 21, 2008

What Environment and Friends do You Choose?

Filed under: Small Business,Words of Wisdom & Inspiration — smallbusinessdiva @ 1:17 pm
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“Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.” 
W. Clement Stone, 1902-2002, Author and Businessman

Keeping these words in mind, what sort of business environment will you associate with? What business associates will you ‘hang out’ with? I’ve chosen to associate myself with other inspired, motivated, happy business people (and friends) who are not afraid to dream big, put in some hard work, take risks and make things happen!

Here’s to your success in business,

Donna-Marie

May 19, 2008

Attitudes of Different Industries

Filed under: Small Business — smallbusinessdiva @ 1:42 pm
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There’s an interesting post on the Beauty Banquet blog about Bitchy Fashion, where Anne shares examples of fashion snobs. And apparently, the way that the fashion industry is portrayed in the movie The Devil Wears Prada isn’t far from the truth.

I’ve never really been involved in the fashion industry so I can’t comment on that. However I have come across other industries or specific companies where the general attitude of workers within that industry/company was not something I felt comfortable around.

In one instance, I was writing freelance articles for a popular women’s magazine. When speaking with an editor one day, I told her about the bad day I’d been having. It was one of those days where one thing after another goes unbelievably wrong… like something out of a comedy show. I wasn’t telling her because I wanted to whinge… I was telling her because in hindsight (late that afternoon), it was hilarious! So funny in fact that she wanted me to write about it.

However, she wanted me to add this and change that… but it was still to be portrayed as a ‘real-life, true story’. Some of the things she wanted me to say I’d done were things I would never, ever do. When I mentioned that, her response was that “…you should never let the truth get in the way of a good article.”

Well, that sort of summed up my experience with them. I was trying to report ‘the facts’, yet they were constantly asking me to exaggerate and push the boundaries of ‘truth’. I never wrote that story… and I never wrote anything else for them. I decided that I couldn’t lie for the sake of readership. Creative writing would be a different story (pardon the pun), but when reporting facts, I want to stick to the facts.

Although writing for this magazine would look good on my resume, I wasn’t prepared to fit in with the general mentality of the staff that I dealt with. I sometimes wonder… if I had kept writing for them, would I have begun to adopt their attitudes? I think probably not. Knowing me, I suspect that I would have been the quiet rebel… the one who tried to show everyone else at that company that integrity and honesty will work wonders too.

Whatever industry you’re in… here’s to your success in business,

Donna-Marie

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