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Small Fish - Small Business Tips and the Latest News

How to make your emails useful

Despite the obvious fact that this is an email and you are reading it now, most of us don't bother reading them.

How many do you get every day?

I get between 50 and 100 emails every day and almost half are stupid bulk emails from people like Groupon offering me cheap towels or something. I unsubscribe often but it seems (mysteriously) not to work....

So I get about 50 that require me to do something or respond somehow. I'm trying to do a days work as well as respond to emails so I have a (sort of) system for them. It goes like this (and I don't think I'm unusual or special):

Is it from someone I know and like or do regular work with?

If so, I'll read it quickly and decide whether to respond immediately or save it for when I'm back at my desk and not trying to type on a mobile phone.

(Sometimes I get to my desk, I forget the email - they drop below the fold and they might as well be gone forever)

Is it interesting or short enough to be dealt with in one go?

Well maybe I'll read it or deal with it while I'm between meetings or having that coffee, then.

Anything else tends to fall into the last category - perhaps I'll read it or deal with it later when I have time. Which is usually not soon.

Now maybe this just illustrates what a retard I am and that I need to rethink my email management (probably something there) but I suspect that email overload applies to a lot of us too.

20% is a good open rate for an email list that is opted in.

So rethink your communicating. If it is important - call them up.

Follow up with a confirmatory email if you need to reinforce something or give them info - they're already past the filter.

And, if your staff think that sending an email absolves them of responsibility for stuff, don't let them get away with it.

Hands up whose email marketing, or even direct email communications, sometimes (often) go unanswered?


Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay
www.smallfish.com.au

How to make your team perform better

Last week, Jon gave a leadership talk at the Leadership Summit.  If you've missed it, we've got a free download for you here.


He talks about:
  1. the leadership process and how you can use it in a small business
  2. some recent psychological learning that can help you be a better leader.
  3. three simple things you can start doing right away to help you get your team performing better.
Get motivated on your way to work and listen to it in your car, or just put it on around the house while you're cleaning. You're bound to get some good insight into your leadership ways. 

After you've listened to the download, leave your comments in the comments below and tell us what you thought. We always love to hear your feedback.

Leadership Summit - Jon Dale Guest Speaker on Leadership for Small Business

Jon is talking at the Macro Recruitment Leadership Summit, next week.

Someone reckons he's one of the top 20 leadership experts in the world, which seems unlikely (how do you measure that stuff?).

Anyway, he believes he's got a few interesting observations to make about leading people and how important that is if you are a leader (and you are if you employ people).

He's drawing from leadership training he received when at Optus, from his experience during that time and from his experience as a business coach, where leading is a little more direct and close and real world.

Expect some simplified theory and some real world do-able initiatives for you to take in your business, to make your people perform better.

It's completely free, did we mention that?

So if you want to hear your daily dose of wisdom from Jon and maybe become a better leader, be sure to book your ticket here:

leadershipsummit.macrorecruitment.com.au/

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay
www.smallfish.com.au

My business is killing me - responses and further thoughts

Last weeks musing on whether you should get out of your business before it kills you got some emotional responses.

I won't name anybody (that wouldn't be fair) but one guy has had a rough year or three and is hanging on by the skin of his teeth - selling personal assets to carry the business through until orders start coming in again in a few months.

I can feel his pain as I write this. He even had a business coach (spent $60,000 over 18 months) who failed to foresee the changing markets that made life so hard (that's a whole different conversation, isn't it? - more of that one next time, perhaps)

There's still no easy answer to the problem, either - if he holds on and the deals come through and he gets his (rather interesting-looking business) back on track, I'm sure he'll be pleased and feel vindicated.

If he stops trading or finds a buyer and they make it succeed, he'll always wish he kept going.

And if he sells his last assets and fails anyway, he'll have wasted those too and end up with nothing.

Interestingly, they say that most of our most successful millionaires have been bust twice.....

So what would you do? We are interested to hear your thoughts on a situation like this, so leave your feedback in the comments below, or email them to me.

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay
www.smallfish.com.au

My business is killing me, should I sell it?

On when it's time to consider giving a business up, the question is "My business is killing me, should I sell it?"

I'm going to try and answer this question as best I can in writing.

If it really is killing you, then it's time to go. If it's a figurative killing you, then the business and the owner need closer inspection. How bad is it? Are you a bit frustrated and needing to change something or are you at the and of your tether?

Are you burning through what little cash resources you have at an alarming rate? Because if you are then exiting immediately might be best. If you aren't, then you have more time to consider your options - can you recover the situation or is it lost altogether?

The figures are important, of course but so is how you feel. If I was talking to someone really in this position, I'd be trying to understand the depth of their need for change and why they wanted change - money, stress, hating it, burnout, frustration and also, could I see a way to help them be happy there again - is it fixable.

So it's not a simple question and it requires careful consideration for each individual and their business. And anyone in this position should obviously call a business coach and request a free session to consider this very question. :)

Now, I want to hear from you - have you ever felt as though your business was killing you, and you couldn't breathe? What was the decision you chose to go with and how do you feel about it? 

If this is the burning topic of the day, then email me and I can help with some clarity.

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay
www.smallfish.com.au


Want to live and work in NZ?

My client, Precise Consulting, is growing rapidly and needs a senior laboratory technician or analyst. They are based in Christchurch, near the ski fields and bunjee jumping.

If you know anyone who might be interested in living and working there for a while, please pass this on.

Click here for the job description - Senior Laboratory Technician Analyst

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching
www.smallfish.com.au

How to pick yourself back up after a fall

Jon has been interviewed for a series of articles in the MPA online magazine (Mortgage Professionals Australia).

Every business goes through its rough patches, and many brokers have had more than their fair share in recent years. So how can you pick yourself back up after a setback? And what happens if you have to completely rebuild?

Jon Dale, director of Small Fish Business Coaching, learnt his lessons the hard way, when tough times during the GFC forced him to shut down his franchises and downsize his business.

“I went from being the CEO of a global business coaching franchise back to being largely a business coach again. It was a complete rebuild, going back to focusing on doing my own marketing and meeting clients… back to the basics and all the things you did in the beginning – except you’ve got no money to do it with.”

While Dale admits his confidence was shaken, he didn’t let his setbacks bring him down. He put in the hard yards to keep his business afloat, and now employs a team of business coaches across Australia, with a view to continue to expand Small Fish in the future.

“I’ve gone out there trying to be a business coach and find clients again, and it’s harder than it was in 2006 when I started but there’s still business out there. I’ve worked really hard and done all of the things that I know worked, and lo and behold it’s starting to pay off.”

The key to finding the motivation to keep going has been the realisation that, while the market has shrunk, it hasn’t disappeared altogether, says Dale.

“I use that to reassure myself that I’m not wasting my time. You have to focus on the process a little bit too and you have to know that going to your networking group or investing time and energy in your website is worthwhile.”

Persistence is one of the most crucial, and difficult, aspects to recovery after a setback, says Dale.

“It’s very easy for people to try things and give up, move on, say ‘That’s not working’ and go and try something else, whereas really a lot of these things that we do require a good long go. You can’t go and see five people and say ‘Oh no one’s interested anymore I’m going to stop' or 'I’m going to stop putting my ad out there because of four people who called me who weren’t suitable'.”

Dale found breaking goals down into manageable chunks, using something he terms ‘reduction to the ridiculous’, helps with this.

“How many loans are written every year? Millions. And how many does a broker need to succeed?,” he asks.

Work out approximately how many loans you need to write each year to earn a comfortable income, break that down into a weekly and daily number, followed by approximately how many meetings or phone calls you think you'll need to have to write that number.

“It’s about breaking it down into things you can influence,” says Dale. “You can’t sit there and say ‘I’ll write 200 loans in a year’ but you can get up every day and make enough phone calls or go to enough meetings to get you on the right track.”

Dale gives similar advice to his staff, and also requires them to report to him regularly on their marketing, lead generation and communications.

“If you’ve got mortgage brokers working for you hold them accountable for that activity. I’d ask my clients to report back to me and I’d ask them ‘How many times yesterday did your business ask somebody to consider your service or product?’

“It’s particularly important for people like mortgage brokers because we’ve got to go and prospect ourselves. You can’t sit and expect your aggregator’s website to send you enquiries. You can buy a shop front if you’re Mortgage Choice or somebody and expect your signage to draw a few people in but you’ve got to go and see people and network and ask them to consider you in a very direct way.”

Picking yourself back up after a fall is never easy, but by focusing on the small things and determining what gets you motivated you can find success again, says Dale.

“It’s about that persistence. Most of the people that have failed have failed because they gave up. If you keep the faith and you do the things that you know work you can succeed.”

Have you faced setbacks in your business? How did you deal with them? Share your thoughts below.

Written by: Amy Rosenfeld - Mortgage Professional Australia



Why business coaching works - Number 4 in a series of ruminations

Carl has requested the rest of us contribute to his series of articles exploring why it is that business coaching works.

Here's today's thought, fresh from the desk of Jon, who is spending the day with his friends at Gold Coast Graphic Design.

Business coaching works for many reasons but because this is a blog, I'm going to talk about just one today and save the others for another article.

This keeps my article short, saving your short attention span and my typing fingers.

It works because it's expensive.

This probably sounds like self-serving bullshit which it is but there's truth in it, too. Just as with many alternative medicine treatments (and the placebo effect) a good part of the effectiveness of a treatment is the very fact of taking action.

Taking that first decisive step and doing something, while not enough on its own, is a huge contributor to making change. I'm sure it was someone wise who said (I probably saw it on Facebook) "every journey begins with a single step".

Well I agree. A good part of the value in business coaching lies in making a real and genuine decision to change the way you run your business. The cost of it is part of this.

It's easy to decide to change things and then not to follow through, though. New Years resolutions are a prime example. Diets are another.

Well business change and business coaching are another.

So the fact that it is expensive does a couple of things - it makes you think about the decision and not take it lightly and, once you've made it, it helps you stick to it.

There's something about spending a lot of money that makes you value the thing you've bought more than you would have if it was cheap (I expect there's a name for this in psychology).

And there's something about your expensive coach coming to see you for your coaching session (with his invoice in his hand, symbolically, at least) that makes the thought of not having done anything anathema. So the expense that you committed yourself to willingly and consciously, counters your natural inclination to stick to your old habits and resist the change you want.

Right, I'm off to put my price up.

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Gold Coast
www.smallfish.com.au



Suck it up and get on with it - Tackling jobs you hate

Jon has been interviewed for a series of articles in the MPA online magazine (Mortgage Professionals Australia). This first one talks about how to tackle those jobs you hate and how to 'suck it up and get on with it.'

'Excuse #1: “I don’t have time.”

Jon Dale, director of Small Fish Business Coaching, takes a no-nonsense approach to confronting your excuses for what they are.

Often the tasks brokers enjoy doing are the ones that have more urgent consequences – dealing with your existing clients, processing current applications etc – whereas jobs such as marketing and prospecting new clients can often be postponed.

“Nobody is going to shout at you if you put your marketing off until tomorrow,” says Dale. “But if you don’t do Mr Jones’ mortgage, he’s going to be pretty pissed off.”

This makes it easier for brokers to ignore these deferrable tasks under the guise of concentrating on more urgent matters. What’s key to understand here, says Dale, is one doesn’t exclude the other.

“People waste a lot of time, and the reality is you can fit it in. Doing some sales and marketing doesn’t really mean that all of your customers are going to have a shit time forever from now on.”

Do the urgent tasks, says Dale, but schedule in time for the things you don’t like eg. ‘From 10-12am tomorrow I will call X amount of prospective clients’.

“What happens then is they realise it’s not true that they stop doing all the other stuff. Things carry on going as before, but the change they’re looking for also comes.”

Excuse #2: “I already tried that.”

So maybe you have tried tackling these tasks before, and maybe things didn’t work out so well.

“So many people have been damaged by an experience they’ve had,” says Dale. “Maybe they’ve taken out an ad and spent their $300 and not got any calls, so they think ads don’t work. In reality, that ad didn’t work, but it’s not quite the same thing. By no means have we established that ads in general don’t work or that they will never work for you.”

This kind of resistance often comes out of embarrassment over past errors, and this only serves to add to the fear of what can be a daunting task.

“Most people say they don’t know what is going to work, they’re uncomfortable not knowing and they’re scared of wasting time, making mistakes and looking like a fool. The reality is most of it does work and it’s not that hard, but it is a bit scary.”

As a broker selling a service, it’s hard not to take every ‘no’ as a personal rejection, says Dale, but it’s important to understand that most things in business involve a process of trial and error – some with more errors than others.

Excuse #3: “Nobody else can do it as well as I can.”

If you really, really don’t want to do something, and you have the resources to do so, outsourcing or delegating to someone else is a great option, says Dale.

“We all think we have to do everything but you can get someone else to do it if you want. It costs money, so everything is a trade-off, but for example I don’t like admin or bookwork so I pay someone else to do it.”

This can often be a struggle for brokers if they have tendencies to micromanage every task, but if you hire the right person, you can learn to have faith in them. The key is having some realism, says Dale.

“Getting someone else to do something that you do really well doesn’t really mean that it’s going to be crap forever and everyone is going to hate you and your service is going to drop,” says Dale.

Excuse #4: “What jobs? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

When there’s nobody around to call you up on it, denial can be a little too easy, says Dale.

“[Business owners] usually understand when I point it out, they know they’ve been hiding from it or ignoring it or pretending they’ve got better things to do.

“If I say to someone ‘How many times today has your business asked someone to consider what you do?’ and they reply ‘None’, it’s a bit hard to hide from that.”

If you’re in a situation where you really are the only one that can tackle a task, and outsourcing isn’t an option, it’s time to take a reality check, says Dale.

Break the tasks up into achievable chunks, and then find someone to hold you accountable for completing them – whether that be a business coach, a sales manager, another broker or a partner.

“Look at the activity and not the end result. Rather than try and persuade yourself you need to turn into a sales and marketing demon and be amazing at it, do something like make two calls a day. When you do that and you get a few coffee meetings and people are generally supportive and nice, you continue to expand your circle and suddenly calling two strangers a day is a habit - and business comes out of it.”

It’s not always easy to hear, says Dale, but sometimes you need to face some hard truths as a business owner.

“If it was easy everybody would be doing it. You can either do it or get a job for an organisation where somebody else does all the hard bits. If you want to work for yourself you’re going to have to spend at least some time doing the things you don’t like – suck it up and get on with it.”


Written by: Amy Rosenfeld for Mortgage Professionals Australia

Enterprise Connect - Free Government Money!

Enterprise Connect is a Federal scheme that helps you hire useful consultants to help you grow your business.

Sometimes they'll pay for Business coaching, if they think that's what you need but they'll cover other consultants too, including marketing consultancy, strategic planning, HR, training (including leadership training for you and your team)

Don't hold me to this because the commitment is not clear - you have to go through the process and see what the government consultant recommends after consulting with you.

It's clear, though that's there is money to be had and that they are keen to give it to you. So do you qualify?

You should be $1m or $1.5m in turnover (sorry minnows - we missed out, too) and in the following industries:

  • Creative Industries
  • Defence Industry
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Professional Services
  • Transport and logistics
  • Tourism
  • Printing and Publishing
  • Clean Technology
  • Food Processing
  • Resources Technology
  • Remote Enterprises

Check out the website. If this is too impenetrable, email me and I'll call the Enterprise Connect Business Adviser that I know and connect you with him. These guys are pretty helpful.

And if they suggest you get yourself a business coach, think of us :)

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay
www.smallfish.com.au

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