Archive for January, 2012

5 ways to make your website work

5 ways to make your website work

The internet has made starting your own business simple. In theory any working mum can be a bedroom entrepreneur with just a computer, an internet connection and a great idea.

However just building a website and putting it out there isn’t enough. You need to think carefully about what your website is saying about your business and whether it’s fulfilling its potential as a useful tool to help your venture grow.

Here are the five questions we think you should ask yourself when planning a business website:

1. Does it fulfil its purpose?

When planning your website, it’s best to start from the very beginning. It may sound obvious but if your business is all about selling product, your site will need a shopping cart and a way for customers to pay you. If you’re providing a service, clients will need to be able to contact you or book online. If the vital component is missing, your site, and therefore your business, won’t get off the ground.

2. Does it have enough information?

When figuring out what to put on your site, you need to get to the bottom of what your customer wants. Potential customers are unlikely to commit to making a purchase unless they have all the necessary information. People can still be wary of making a financial commitment online as it removes human interaction. Including phone numbers will help them to feel reassured. Your site should also feature details about who you are, your products and services and what’s special about your business to advertise it in the best possible light.

3. Is it well presented?

Your business model may be great and your site might have all the answers, but visitors won’t get past the homepage if it looks a mess. Most sites are arranged in grids, reminiscent of newspaper pages, which keep everything neat and easy to navigate. Think about the design of your site as you would a shop front; pick inviting colours and choose a font that’s clear and easy on the eye to encourage potential clients to spend longer browsing your pages.

4. Can people use it?

While presentation is important, it means nothing if visitors to your site don’t know where to click. For a business site, simplicity and signposting will ensure that potential customers don’t get frustrated and give up halfway to the checkout. Dynamic, arty formats are great for portfolios but do corporate sites no favours. Make menus clear and obvious. A breadcrumb trail is also a must for large sites, so visitors know how they arrived on their current page.

5. Can people find it?

So your site, looks great and functions properly, but you’re business still isn’t doing that well? It could be because nobody can see it. Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO) is a technique you can use to help people find your site. It works by looking at the words your potential clients will type into search engines, such as Google.

If your website is full of relevant content, which clearly shows what your business is about, then Google should pick it up naturally. Making sure it’s well structured will also help. Incoming links to your site and title tags for each page (which appear in your Google listing) will also put you in the search engine’s good books.

Author: marketing.yell.com for more advice on building a business website, or to find more detailed explanations of these points.

Authentic success - How to make choices that fit who you are?

Authentic success – How to make choices that fit who you are?

Life coach Denise Parker shares her key steps to help working mums and women leaders achieve authentic success. Remember: “If you try and be like everyone else who will be like you?”

Have you ever bought a pair of shoes, or a smart new outfit, and then stepped out and realised that they just didn’t fit properly? And while you’re wearing them you just can’t ignore how they feel, you know something’s not right and the thought of it just keeps distracting you and playing on your mind?

Well just like that ill-fitting suit, or those uncomfortable shoes, success that isn’t authentic doesn’t feel quite right either. And what’s more the consequences can be much longer lasting and far more damaging!

Lack of Authentic success|

  • Feels like hard work
  • You’re not getting the results you want
  • You lack clarity, feel confused or distracted and are not sure what to focus on
  • It’s a struggle to stop your mind racing
  • You feel stressed or nervous and just can’t slow down
  • You’re doing ok but something’s missing
  • Your confidence dips and you start questioning or doubting yourself, especially when it seems like everyone else is doing better than you
  • It starts to affect your relationships and other areas of your life
  • You may be able to tolerate this for a while, but just like those shoes at the end of the night, you can find yourself asking ‘what on earth am i doing?’

Benefits of Authentic success

  • It feels completely natural and you’re doing what you love
  • You’re in your flow and things happen more easily
  • Your mind is clear, you know exactly what you want and what needs to happen
  • You remain calm and relaxed, even under pressure
  • You have an inner confidence that allows you to handle new challenges and make decisions that fit for you
  • You’re far more compelling and attract potential clients with ease
  • You value yourself and charge what you’re worth
  • You enjoy more balance and well-being in your life

Sadly, many people I meet, and clients I work with, have lost their true sense of self, forgotten what really matters to them and lost confidence in themselves. And this means that they’re either holding back and not getting the results they would like, or are getting results but not being true to who they really are. And for small business owners who are wearing several different hats, juggling so many balls and being bombarded with information and advice, it can be easy to lose ourselves along the way!

So what can you do if you recognise any of the symptoms mentioned above?

Well, first of all realise that you’re not alone ;-) Secondly, consider the following key steps.

S – Start with yourself

Ensure you have a healthy sense of self. This is essential for developing and maintaining a feeling of confidence, realising your natural gifts and talents and making choices that fit with who YOU are.

P – Prioritise what matters most

Be really clear about what matters most, and what really drives you at a deep level. This allows you to focus more easily, gain greater clarity and enjoy more passion and inspiration in your life.

A – Accept and let go

Release unhelpful habits and conditioning, accept who you are and let go of attachments to things, people and opinions. This is hugely liberating and frees you up to be your natural, authentic self.

And perhaps above all, remember who you really are. You have a unique set of skills, gifts and talents. You bring something unique to the world. And that’s YOU J

So I’ll share with you one of my favourite quotes……..“If you try and be like everyone else who will be like you?”

And if you have any questions please feel free to get in touch.

Author: Denise Parker has been helping managers and leaders in organisations, and small business owners, create more Authentic Success since 1997. This means that not only do they get to achieve outstanding results but they also find more enjoyment and meaning in the work that they do AND feel good about themselves too. She knows from her own experience, and the experience of her clients, that reaching our goals is only one aspect of success, how we are feeling is quite another. denise@deniseparker.com

 

How to find my dream job - mum Sarah Wade shares her story

How to find my dream job – mum Sarah Wade shares her story

Surrounded by people who hated their jobs, I went in search of an antidote – people who absolutely love what they do for a living. That’s how I started writing the book ‘Find your dream job ‘, which you can win this month on Mum & Career.

I love it when people get fired up about the work that they do and the businesses they run. I’m very nosy and want to know exactly how they did it. How do you get from being a BT auditor in a dispiriting environment to being a freelance food writer. It’s a very competitive market – how do you break into a new, unfamiliar world with no contacts survive and be successful?

I have very many favourite stories from our book ‘Find Your Dream Job': Georgina who became the only bread winner when her husband left and her life changed ‘in an hour.’ Former BT Auditor Andy is now the food writer for Metro. Gemma combined work experience in a challenging Devil Wears Prada environment with waitressing. Last year Gemma left the UK for LA after being offered a job styling celebrities for the red carpet. Geoff was determined to get funding for a university project he started in his second year. Now he’s the director of the longest running comedy festival in the UK. This year DAVE has taken over sponsorship of the Leicester Comedy Festival.

Chris lost his job and his girlfriend over the same weekend. He resisted the urge to climb under the duvet and hide. Instead he cycled to Beijng and now presents talks about the journey and his book ‘Why Don’t You Fly?’

I wanted to talk to ordinary people with inspiring stories to tell. People who found the courage to leave dull jobs to go and hunt for one they felt passionate about. They knew that there had to be something more. All the interviewees made choices, both big and small, that changed their lives. And whilst there was fear, huge obstacles, family disapproval, sleepless nights and hair raising moments the only regret they all had was that they hadn’t done it sooner.

Carole Ann Rice my co-author provides coaching notes to help get you through the process. Vivacious and witty it’s been brilliant to work alongside her on this project. She started out wanting to be an artist but became a waitress, door to door salesperson and once operated the tail end of a snail in a TV puppet show instead.
“Having you hand up a snail’s derriere all day is a wake up call. I know too well the agony of the dead end job”, she recalls. Now she has found her own dream job as a coach and founder of Real Coaching. She is also an author, award-winning journalist and one time TV presenter/programme maker for BBC & ITV.

The book we wrote is for anyone stuck in a rut, convinced they can’t move or make change, or can’t think how or what to do next. It’s for anyone in need of ideas and practical suggestions for making successful change right now.

Author: Sarah Wade, visit her website for her blog with more stories on finding a dream job.

How to manage and re-build your post-maternity confidence

How to manage and re-build your post-maternity confidence

Confidence can ebb away really quickly, but there are some key things you can do to help you in returning to work and  (believe me!) be as good as you ever were.

Last autumn I took part in a seminar Credit Suisse hosted which asked the question: what factors help and hinder the recruitment and retention of talented women? Sitting next me to was a lady older than me who hadn’t had children. We got talking about why a friend of hers (a talented marketer) who’d taken eight years out to have and raise children kept turning down job offers she made. I talked about confidence, she nodded and listened intently and was astounded how quickly it can ebb away.

Managing and rebuilding post mat leave confidence is a subject we could write a book on or at least a chapter (see chapter two ‘Keep in touch and ask for what you want’ of my book Mothers Work!) never mind a simple, short post. However, I’m going to give you three things to play with if you’re game.

If you’re currently on maternity leave

Last autumn I took part in a seminar Credit Suisse hosted which asked the question: what factors help and hinder the recruitment and retention of talented women? Sitting next me to was a lady older than me who hadn’t had children.

Reframing is a powerful technique to take back control – instead of focussing on how you’ve been at home for seven months doing things completely unrelated to your job, imagine you’ve had a role on a Guatemalan pigeon farm (or some other nonsense that’s equally far removed from your usual career. So if you are in fact a zoo keeper or travelling vet then imagine a year out managing the trading floor of a Japanese bank in Tokyo ). Somehow I can’t imagine you’d be feeling apprehensive and/or telling yourself silly stories about how you’ll never be able run a client meeting, write a marketing plan or convince a colleague just because you’ve pressed pause to do something different for 40 weeks. Maternity leave is a career break plain and simple (OK, yes I know it IS different but we’re REFRAMING here) and seeing it as such can give you a boost. You absolutely CAN do everything you did before and it’s surprising how easily it comes back and sometimes you’re better than you were before. Fact. Please quote me on it.

If you are already back in the saddle

More feedback please! We all need to hear we’re doing things well and to get a nudge when we’re not operating at our best. If you’re being a doubting Thomasina about your abilities it’s time to pin down three things you think you’re not doing as well as you used to and get feedback from people who know.

When you get your rational mindset on, chances are you won’t be able to find three things. If on closer inspection you do need to tweak what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, ask for some suggestions on what it would take to boost your performance. What does great look like? How wide of the mark are you? What’s different about your approach now compared to the pre-kiddie era?

Be brave, ask for feedback and if it’s glowing please, please please accept it graciously like a confident woman does and if it’s developmental, act on it.

If you’ve taken a substantial time out

We’re all changed by having children regardless of the length of time taken out of work. If there’s a twinkle in your heart about getting back into what you were doing before children, start talking to friends and past colleagues who are still in the industry. Making that connection, expressing your desire is the first step to making things happen. And believe me, things can happen if you tell the world you’re back and want to start exploring.

If you want to change tack, my plea is that you’re honest with yourself about why. I’ve met many women who are doing or talking about doing something completely different for reasons they’re not always honest about.

Confidence does return and when it flows so too might your frustration at being over-qualified and under-stretched by your new role. Of course, it’s fair to say there are lots of career-shifters who are flourishing because of it.

Back to the lady at the Credit Suisse seminar: “So how quickly did you start feeling that you couldn’t do it?” she whispered to me as the first speaker took to the stage. “A couple of months” I replied. “A couple of months?!” she echoed with incredulity. “I know, it’s ridiculous,” I said “but it’s the truth – now you can perhaps see what’s going on for your friend. But look, I’m back and it didn’t take very long at all – I even wrote a book about it. Perhaps that’s a story you could share with your friend.” “Yes, I will, have you got a card?” she said deliberately and with a look of deep thought.

Motheringly yours,

Jessica

Author: Jessica Chivers is the author of Mothers Work! How to get a grip on guilt and make a smooth return to work (Hay House, £10.99).

She coaches women in career transition and works with organisations to facilitate the smooth return and ongoing progression of female talent. Do check out her monthly mailings on working motherhood and female flourishing.

Top Tips for running a business that fits around the children

Top Tips for running a business that fits around the children

Mums are often looking for a business that gives them flexibility: a life style business. To me it’s always a wonderful experience to meet someone who has decided to start a business up. Especially when these reasons are because they would like to build a business which serves their life – for example being able to spend more time with kids, avoiding the commute, more leisure time and so on.

Without fail each inspires me. Each brings an emotional tear to my eye – for no other reason than their story is so inspiring. This inspiration is motivating, and humbling. It demonstrates no matter who we are or where we have come from, we have the ability to do something about realising our dreams.
Getting going in business takes work. A lot of it. The saying “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary” is so true. People who start their own business are seldom afraid of hard work. It could be argued, they work too hard leaving the reason the business started in the first place one side.

This is when dis-satisfaction can start creeping in with that feeling that something is still missing. Followed perhaps by guilt and those unhelpful self-beating sessions.

Businesses need planning and attention. Just like the rest of your life. There is little point planning your business if it ignores your life.

To escape this trap, here are my 5 top tips:

1. Figure your priorities and consider structuring your day around this.

For example, what is more important overall: getting your newsletter out or spending an hour with your kids? Is there a way you can do both by postponing some tasks to later in the week, perhaps it’s not that important the dishes are done or that you spend an hour on Twitter?

2. Plan your business with your life in mind.

Business planning is essential. It gives you a rudder. As important as this is, it is equally important to make sure your business aims are aligned to your life aims. For example, if your business aim is to have x number of clients by y date and you know this will take a 24/7 effort. Ask how this may affect your life aims and consider perhaps a more balanced approach.

3. Remember you are as important as everyone else.

Yes, you really are. It is impossible to be everything to everybody. Coping with the demands on your time is so much easier when you have invested in caring for yourself first. If you are well cared for, caring for all your priorities, including your business, is so much more rewarding.

4. Let go

Sometimes difficult decisions need to be made. You may need to decide if earning an extra few hundred pounds is worth missing your child’s sports day. Or you may need to decide to skip the networking meeting and focus on yourself instead. Once you’ve decided let it go. Don’t obsess, feel guilty or question your decision (unless you know you’ve made the wrong one, in which case change your mind)

5. Build a supportive network

Join a networking group. Create a group of contacts and develop mutually support.

I hope those have helped. Please let me know how

Author: Paullette Schwartz, MBA has been described as the business coach with heart. She specialised in businesses started for lifestyle reasons and is passionate about happiness in people and profits in business. She offers several great workshops for anyone wishing to start a lifestyle business, or would like to boost their business and life.

Holistic Business Planning on the 28th January is designed to plan your business with your life in mind using my easy, tried and tested Power Pyramid of Success.

Paullette Schwartz and Carole Anne Rice have teamed up to present Business Makeover 2012. This is like a spa day for your business and has six amazing treatments you can apply straight way.

Or sign up to her FREE Ideal Business Booster e-mail programme