There’s a US company I communicate with via email and they are fantastic. They solve problems 24 hours a day and they jump right in an do the little stuff that we don’t know how to do. It’s a supplier to a company I work with and they are a very important part of that company’s business. The most amazing part is that no one has spoken to a single person from this company.
It’s a far cry from the days when we were scared to communicate with strangers online let alone trust crucial parts of your business to them and give them your credit card details.
This company is social, with a Twitter page, Facebook page and even a LinkedIn profile and yet still there is no sign they are humans. At no time has a name ever been revealed and in a way it makes sense. I mean just because you speak to Lucy from Telstra, does that make Telstra a different company?
The good news is that this company will receive more business soon and its because they do such a great job!Read More
With the exception of creating a logo, most “design” work actually involves much more than just design. It involves writing and structuring the words you use to convey your message and sell readers on your product or service.
If you want someone to draw a picture or design a logo then anyone in the world can do that without requiring a solid understanding of English. That’s why crowd-sourced design competitions draw designers from all over the world. It’s the same if you know exactly what you want on your brochure but just don’t have the software skills to create it yourself. If you know exactly what you want and you just want to tell a designer exactly what you want then you will find that person for a very low rate in developing countries.
It’s a little different if you have a concept but want someone with design skills to give you their interpretation. It’s when you want a result but don’t want to micro-manage that you realise the value of a higher priced designer.
I’ve used remote contractors from all over the world and realise that Australian virtual assistants are worth the money for certain tasks. Confidence in writing skills and the ability to communicate over the phone are critical if you want to earn the Australian dollars. If you choose the right remote contractor you don’t need to micro-manage and can leave the task to your team member. That’s really what people are paying the higher rates for these days.
Do you want to give someone a brief and get back some magic or tell them exactly what you want them to do?
With all the new software and internet technology it’s surprising that English writing and speaking skills usually make all the difference. If you want to earn the good dollars then become the person who is dependable and can complete the task without micro managing.
Image from flashxml.netRead More
There’s a lot of news around today. Everywhere we look someone has an opinion about how everyone else is doing and some of those opinions are from smart people who’ve really thought about what they say. But does it matter to you?
You can compare your business with those on the stock market. Some are doing very badly but better than their competitors, others have had to make changes but as a result they can become hugely profitable in the future.
If your business has taken a hit in the last 6 or 12 months, take a look at what is affecting it and make some decisions and a plan for change in the future. When you make a plan for the future you can forecast and look at how much money you could be earning you might become quite positive. It’s really a simple case of putting some figures together in Microsoft Excel for the coming year. You can always base it on lasts years figures and make an adjustment for current circumstances.
The most interesting thing about creating a forecast is you can then look at it regularly, focus on it and develop a desire for success. That desire and the knowledge that what you earn depends on what you can do for other people can make you perform better than the overall market. Why not give it a try.Read More
The proliferation of the Internet and its ability to connect people from every country has been evident in the political unrest in the middle east in recent news, but it is also causing a massive shift in employment for work that can be completed at home. In Australia we have very strict wage rates and conditions that unions have fought to improve and maintain but tasks like graphic design, building websites, creating apps and programming can be performed from home. That means it can be performed in anyone’s home, in any country and it has greatly empowered the concept of crowd-sourcing for these tasks.
The downside for Australian workers is that they are now competing for certain tasks with workers who would be thrilled to earn several hundred dollars per month, let alone per week (or per day for some workers).
I had the pleasure of hearing DesignCrowd pitch for funding at a SydStart event in Sydney in early 2011 and since then I’ve also come to use a similar site, 99Designs. After using these services you start to realise the game changing potential. Rather than spend a lot of time and money getting YOUR designer to give you a couple examples, you can have hundreds of designers presenting their ideas. Best of all, they all want your feedback and suggestions so that they can create something even more to your liking.
After using both these services with various clients I pondered the future for this type of service for the investors in the businesses, the designers and the customers and here are my observations:
- The investors receive a commission for each competition and will need to find different models to earn more revenue to satisfy their investment desires. These companies may become print or website brokers.
- Each competition provides a connection between a company and a designer and once the connection is established the customers wants good artwork and must pay their new designer to do it. How much do they pay. Many designers then try to charge a “developed country” rate.
- How often will a designer “tender” for work by submitting designs if they don’t win any “competitions”.
- Some customers will get put off by bad design submissions and the need to spell out exactly what they are looking for and may stop using this type of service.
One of the projects I worked with last year gave us 133 design submissions for a total of only $295 which is less than $2.22 per entry so needless to say we were thrilled with the outcome.
We did find that DesignCrowd appeared to have more people you could contact if you had a question or an issue, the only way we could successfully contact 99Designs was via Twitter. Here are a couple other reviews about these sites that may interest you.
Needless to say, with 100% money-back guarantees, there’s no reason not to give it a go yourself:Read More
We know that a business is like a cash-flow generating, revenue earning engine. It’s a machine that needs to be maintained and steered (managed) so that it’s revenue is greater than it’s expenses. You could spent a lot of time studying strategic management to learn how best to steer your business forward but you’ll never know which decisions you need to make until you understand what you need to change and that’s when we look at what we have already done.
Getting reports from your database, enrolment system, memberships statistics, accounting system will give you a great insight of historical performance and this is vital if you want to forecast the future, but there is a final step to ensure that you have the real information. You need to be compliant.
Compliance means you have completed your paperwork, lodged it with your account and with the regulatory bodies like ASIC, ATO etc. Only then will you know exactly how much you have really made in profit and only then will you know if your plans have been successful.Read More
Forecasting is a fascinating thing and many small business owners think it’s impossible. When I speak to some business owners they say it is hard because the cost of borrowing is increasing, banks aren’t lending as much, things are going bad in Europe, customers are not buying as much and I’m sure you could think of many other typical conversation topics.
The most fascinating aspect about forecasting is that it affects almost every part of our lives already. What’s the weather going to be like, how much is my super going to be worth, what about the value of my home. If the largest Australian public companies just kept doing what they are doing there are forecasts for economic growth, inflation and most other financial indicators.
The hardest part of forecasting is that you are setting yourself and your business some goals and targets and the higher the goal the more you have to stretch yourself and your team to achieve them. If you are stretching yourself beyond last years achievements you might start depending on your staff more, need to make a better commitment to your customers, package your products better or provide better customer service.
Every business is really a little cash-flow generating machine and if you plan to grow your machine you’ve got to know that your little machine can handle a heavier workload and higher speed while maintaining smooth operation. So set yourself a target and fine tune the money making engine to achieve it smoothly because everybody who has a stake in your engine wants to know what they can expect to see in the future. And, if the future looks bright and you can demonstrate why, then you might have others wanting to invest in it.Read More
I recently wrote about the experiences we are having regarding the resume writing service of EzyLearn called ezyRESUME and how the combined skills of writing and using programs like Microsoft Word and WordPress CMS (Content Management System) for websites enables smart people to effectively and efficiently sell their services as employees as well as the services of companies. The next step in that process is about demonstrating your skills.
In our search for a new team member at EzyLearn we recently had two virtual assistants perform a task to demonstrate their advanced skills using Microsoft Excel and the outcomes were VERY different and demonstrate some simple steps that people can take to build long term relationships that benefit both parties.
Our first candidate wrote a long list of the skills they have in their resume and subsequent interview and ticked a big YES next to the desired skills we were looking for. The second candidate showed confidence in using the software and the willingness and desire to do additional learning if required to complete advanced tasks. The outcome of this exercise showed how important your intuition is in picking the right people. It also demonstrated that those people in direct contact with the potential team members also had far greater insight into the candidates personal qualities.
Candidate One was a young lady that responded quickly but provided results that any one could perform after reading a “Dumbies” book on Excel, she demanded payment immediately and when changes were requested showed a disdain to work together. Candidate Two had more experience working with people, created a much more sophisticated result with excellent productivity tools (with Macros and buttons) and most importantly demonstrated that she wanted to understand exactly what was required so that she could provide the most ideal results.
Not only did candidate two demonstrate excellent skills and willingness to personalise her results, but she showed an open and positive willingness to co-operate and provide a positive outcome. It imperative to be positive and willing at all times and no matter how well you write your resume or how well you know how to format it professionally in Word, your actions during and after the interview will largely determine your ongoing success.Read More
Whether or not a professional looking resume defines an employee, it is the first impression that any business owner has of the pool of available talent applying for work. It is the document that most employers use to see if job seekers have the rudimentary skills and personality traits to fulfill the job and fit into their current working environment.
Through my involvement with EzyLearn, I have had the opportunity to witness statistics about resumes of EzyLearn students and I’ve noticed that the most confident students already have a resume and usually have the skills to modify it as needed for each role they apply for over time. It led us to the important discovery that the ability to create and modify their own CV revealed which students have the skills to both write about their skills, experience and achievements as well as use Microsoft Word.
Another interesting fact that we are discovering every month is that writing a resume to display your skills and “sell” yourself into a job uses very similar skills to creating a website that sells a businesses services to it’s customers and increasingly more of this is happening online.
EzyLearn provides training courses in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook), MYOB Accounting and WordPress and has a close relationship with recruitment companies, employment agencies and other organisations which provide employment services to those seeking work and as part of this relationship, they have created a resume writing service which not only provides students with a resume, but an online training course in Microsoft Word, which gives students the ability to make changes as and when they need to their resume.
In a similar way, the Online WordPress training course is giving virtual assistants and small business owners the ability to create their own websites, make modifications as and when they are needed and most importantly create blogs and participate in the new online world of social media.
Good resume writing skills will definitely help you find and get the job you are looking for, but it is also the fundamental skills employed to talk about and promote the features of every small business in Australia and around the world.Read More
I’ve recently had the thrill of communicating with lots of WordPress designers and developers from Australia and all over the world and it’s fascinating to see how different people approach the concept of website design. From the conversations I have with clients the usual goal is to get a website up and running with some basic content and make it look good. That usually involves some great graphics work, a nice logo and a small amount of “guiding” text which can be fleshed out by a professional copy writer later.
The most fascinating aspect of website design are all the people who want to build you a custom template. Just for you. Why do some web designers offer that? It seems they offer it to get the most hours out of you, quoting between 30-50 hour to complete the work. What work is that exactly? It’s creating a lovely piece of artwork with the look and feel of your website and then ripping that design into potentially hundreds of fragments of graphic (including rounded corners) that are used in different sections of the site. Phew… what a load of work that is! Much better to get an existing premium template from $30-$120 and customise it to be your own.
I’m a lover of theme clubs (WordPress templates are called Themes) that provide great looking themes that you can use over and over for different customers. They make the task easier for web designers and faster for customer to get their professional online presence. The best price/feature one that I have come across is Elegant themes.
My most recent experience however involves working with affiliate program and currently it’s WP affiliate manager which looks like it’s had a recent overhaul using a snazzy theme from WooThemes. It’s a little tricky to get setup and this is my first test to see how it works. This image below is my own affiliate link to EzyLearn’s online MYOB Training Course and if you click this link and enrol into the course as a result I will earn $30. Click away and help me build some stats.Read More
What is SEO? It stands for Search Engine Optimisation but that doesn’t really give you a good description of what it involves. Some people think it also includes buying clicks with something like Google Adwords or Microsoft’s Bing ad networks but that’s called SEM (Search Engine Marketing). So what is SEO?
Other people tell me that it’s all about how you use keywords around your website; in the page name and description, in the keywords that you target for each page and the words you use in the writing on your actual web pages and if this is true, then it’s up to the person who either writes your articles and or edits your website. Perhaps the best description of SEO comes from Matt Cutts, an engineer at Google who created an educational video about search engine optimisation.
Once you know what SEO is the real question is how do you perform the tasks of an SEO consultant. If you watch Matt’s video you’ll see that one of the SEO aspects he talks about is how well connected your website is, who’s connecting to it and who are you connecting to and you start to get an idea of the bigger picture that SEO is really about marketing your brand, building a network of websites that are relevant to yours and willing to put links on their website to yours. Does this sound familiar? It’s about building relationships and then building links on websites to confirm the relationships.
I recently met with Kristin from Sassy SEO and she re-affirmed my realisation that “white hat” SEO is about building relationships and building communities of interested people who are willing to recommend and interact about topics they are interested in. The larger the community the more relevant it is to the topic and one of the most important tasks in small business marketing is to make contact with the influential bloggers and let them you exist, build a relationship and then build a link bridge.
There’s another whole topic about “grey hat” and “black hat” SEO but we’ll save that for another time. Sometimes it is better to have fewer good quality links rather than lots of temporary spam like links. Stay tuned for more about SEO.
Watch a video about Search Engine Optimisation by Google Employee Matt Cutts and read about the online marketing and SEO services offered by 123ezy websites.Read More