From thought provoking and informative to amusing and controversial – these are 9 great business bloggers who inform and inspire
1. Jane Copeland is a marketing strategist whose blog Coping With Jane, addresses how to build a personal brand while maintaining a balance between work and life. If you’re a woman looking to position yourself as an authority and leader in your niche, this is the blog for you. Unlike most other business blogs, it offers plenty of video content.
2. Founder of Red Balloon Naomi Simson, writes a motivational blog which provides practical business advice that can be applied to real life. She offers advice for new entrepreneurs and shares stories of her own personal successes and setbacks on the road to success. Her blog was rated second best business blog for 2016 by Smart Company.
3. Social media marketing is a core part of most businesses, and Donna Moritz’s Socially Sorted is a blog that addresses ways to improve your social presence. It’s an accessible and enjoyable to read.
4. Posse by Rebekah Campbell, is a timeless blog that follows the journey of a startup founder. It describes the rollercoaster ride of owning your own business and delves into how problems can be solved with technology.
5. Katrina Read is a creative strategist and her technical blog Kat’s Insight is perfect for business owners who want to understand and tap into the potential of analytics and big data. Content includes posts on budgeting and telecommunications, with real life examples offered.
6. Steve Sammartino is a published author and business technologist who writes content relating to startups, new technology, and data. With posts on everything from futurism to privacy issues and efficiency, Startupblog is a wealth of information for new business owners.
7. Kelly Exeter is the author of Swish Design – a blog garnered to small business owners with a desire to boost their business through digital marketing, social media, and great design. This blog takes some of the pressure off when it comes to needing to be a digital expert.
8. Small Paper Things is a blog brought to you by Kate Cook – a digital marketer who writes offering advice to entrepreneurs who wish to boost their online marketing results. If you’re doing your own digital marketing or you’re seeking a fresh outlook, check out this blog.
9. Rayn Ong is a Sydney-based start-up investor who writes on all things in this sphere. He is an investor with a tech background and mostly finances early-stage SaaS and marketplace businesses. Rayn has invested in more than 25 companies and writes on how to become an angel investor, what to look out for and how to pitch successfully.
Are you a founder with an established blog on technology, logistics, sales and marketing, leadership or human resources?
Rare Birds’ lead writer and editor Angela Gosnell would love to hear from you. Email her with links to your articles.
We’ve all had one (or several!) clients who keep us working late into the night. Here are 18 ways to help manage their expectations.
- Identify the stakeholders: Understanding the role your clients’ have within their organisation, such as their level of importance and sphere of influence, makes it easier to understand their needs and what impacts their decision-making process. Knowing their pain points will definitely help you manage their expectations more easily and effectively.
- Set goals: It’s really hard to manage success if you don’t have a strategy in place from the start. Explain your methodology to themand how you’re going to reach the goals. Set a timeline, showing them what you’re going to achieve and then do your damnedest to stick to it.
- Understand their budget: Provide detailed quotes, monitor how much you’re spending and stay within budget. When the job is done, provide invoices that are clear and easy to understand and don’t include nasty hidden costs that haven’t previously been discussed.
- Be transparent: Be honest, have guidelines and boundaries in place that are easily understood, and talk to your clients about both of your expectations.
- Be responsive: Stay connected, respond to their emails promptly and keep them informed at every stage of the process.
- Face-to-face contact: Phone conversations and emails only go so far in maintaining and building great client relationships. Meeting with your client regularly helps to deepen your connection, keeping them engaged and ensuring you and your business are top-of-mind.
- Listen to them, but hear what they say: Understand what they really want from you. This sounds like a given, but what it really means is listening carefully to their requests – even if these seem to be coming in a constant stream – and understanding their motivations.
- Know the challenges they face: Accommodate these with the services you offer. It could be technology you use in-house that helps solve their problems or individuals and organisations you partner with that can provide them with services they would struggle to find elsewhere.
- Build trust: Do what you say you’re going to do and let them know ahead of time if circumstances are likely to change.
- Don’t be a ‘yes’ person: Your client is paying for your skills and knowledge. If you think they are suggesting something that could prevent you delivering positive results, don’t be the shy retiring type – speak up and make recommendations that you know will work.
- Build detailed reports regularly: Reporting enables your clients to understand the impact you’re having on their business. Highlight your achievements in weekly or monthly breakdowns and make recommendations for areas where they could see improved results.
- Be innovative: Come up with ideas that will save them time, money and resources.
- Use your connections: Your personal branding can help grow your clients’ audience and promote the work you’re doing for them. Post, like, share and retweet their articles.
- Educate them: Your client needs to understand how you will achieve your results and what’s involved in the process. This is particularly relevant if it the process is new to them or if it will take you an extended period of time to achieve the results you’re aiming for.
- Teach your team: The relationship you have with your clients should be seamless, so make sure your team is kept up to date with the work you’re doing with them and that every touchpoint they have with them is a positive one.
- Be consistent: Be professional at all times, especially when you’re under pressure of deadline.
- Go above and beyond: Under-promise and over-deliver. Be conservative in your estimates, so you delight clients when you exceed their expectation.
- Be helpful: Send information, links, events and so on you think will help grow their business.
You’re on their side
Your clients are trying to achieve results that make them look good in their own organisation and – if they’re a founder – will help them drive a solid return on investment. Having an in depth understanding of the boxes they need to tick will help you navigate even the trickiest of relationships.
Are you a founder who is experiencing challenges with your client relationships? Rare Birds can connect you with a mentor who can help steer you through the maze of uncertainty, which may be creating problems for you and your co-founder.
Reaching global audiences is a focus for most SMBs, but how can you tackle the challenges of scaling?
Rare Birds Founder and CEO Jo Burston describes what needs to happen to make scaling possible.
First, she says, you need to define why you want to scale – considering what scaling means from a build and impact perspective – and then how to go about it.
“We know that technology and the number of people we have within the organisation is scalable, but how do we apply our resources and the capabilities in a combination that creates the ‘how’? That is the secret sauce ingredient to entrepreneurship,” says Jo Burston.
She has successfully scaled three businesses, with her largest business Job Capital, forecast to turn over $40 million this year. She says to determine the size and impact of scaling you need to strategise and implement actions that enable it to happen.
“If I was starting my first business and I wanted to scale, I might think that scaling means reaching seven capital cities in Australia. But now, 10 years later, scaling for me is, ‘I want to be able to reach everyone on the planet who has the internet’.”
How to get started
One way to go about reaching “everyone on the planet” is to first test all your ideas about how to scale before building anything. Consider how time, costs and your resources impact these experiments.
“I put about six to eight months of thinking into how to do it… I anticipate five different ways of scaling a business and then look at it from a technology perspective first, a financial cost perspective second, a human capital and resources perspective third, and then an impact perspective fourth,” she says.
“If all those things line up for me and they all look like green lights, and I’m capable of resourcing those four areas, then scalability will occur.”
If one of those four things is missing though, it’s unlikely that scaling will be successful.
Getting the technology right
Jo Burston says she managed to scale Job Capital – an essentially bricks and mortar business – by automating parts of it. “I could see straight away that by removing the friction or removing the points of contact where a human could be replaced by an automated piece of technology that I would be able to scale the business much faster.”
With Big Data, a business she launched in 2013, she scaled it by building a platform for an entire contingent workforce. “It was a really complicated piece of work. We mapped out the process for the customer, the company and the candidate.”
She looked at who the customer was, what the product needed to be and how she could multiply the effect of that. She also considered how many sets of hands and decisions were being made during this long and difficult process.
It took a year to map out a technology-enabled, scalable product. Then the team started building the technology incrementally, testing if each piece worked before proceeding to the next piece. They also recruited a volunteer customer to test the platform for time-efficiency and the user interface.
“It was a long piece of planning and processing, and we didn’t actually build anything until we could see that it was scalable – until we had the resources; the human talent to help it happen, and the time that was required to do that.”
She says entrepreneurs often see scaling as a fast move. “For me, it has always been a slow, measured, carefully thought through strategic plan. It’s a big investment, so you’ve got to make it work and be prepared in that journey to iterate and pivot without a lot of cost or time being lost.”
Justifying the costs
If you’re struggling to justify the cost of developing a platform that costs, say $50,000, it helps to weigh it up against the cost of hiring someone for a year for the same amount of money.
“If I bought myself a $50,000 diamond ring in one year everyone would look at that and go, ‘that’s unbelievable, how can you afford that?’ But I was putting $50,000 people in my business without having the same ‘wow’ factor. So, I thought, ‘why don’t I replace this $50,000 of person, who is only able to deliver for one year and convert that into $50,000 worth of technology, which can deliver for me year-on-year and it’s repeatable, and scaleable?’”
She then worked out how to do that many times over, so it was hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of investment, “however, I knew the long term, scalable returns would also return to me, and they did.”
Technology is also depreciable and has research and development benefits. “When I pay an employee at that level, I’ve still got to pay tax and on costs, so add another 20 per cent for turning the lights on, so to speak. Whereas, with technology there are attributes that not only progress the business faster, but there are incentives, from a tax perspective, to do it as well.”
Sharing the vision
As the company expands, Jo Burston says you need to be clear about the vision, because it’s the businesses’ guiding rudder when things go wrong. She recommends sharing the vision openly with your employees, so they can decide for themselves if they can cope with the pressure. She typically shows her team the goals and workload for the next 12 to 18 months, “setting the vision for that growth pain before it happens”.
“People thrived in that environment or they didn’t. They would often leave, because it was just too challenging for them to be stretched and to be that uncomfortable.”
Those who embraced it grew as the company scaled. “They just did incredible stuff, because they didn’t know they could even do it,” she says.
“When you look back in 12 months’ time and really actually measure their success, and not in a numerical way, but what their behaviours were and what they learnt in the process… that’s got a really incredible ripple effect in a person. If they achieve something and they’re acknowledged for it, then they’re going to try to do a little bit better next time until all of a sudden they get to a point where they look at themselves and go, ‘oh my god, I’ve changed. Look how I’ve grown’.
She says employees also have a responsibility to understand the vision, because fast growth companies need people who can get in the door, reach benchmark and keep up with the pace of growth. “Individuals have a responsibility to ask themselves, ‘how am I going to stay relevant in an organisation that’s moving faster than I am at the moment?’”