We’re in the same room – but are we doing the same thing?

A copy of my article published in the Sunday Times of Malta today

Julila Mcdaid article in Sunday Times Networking, for many, is a fundamental part of their business life. Whether they like it or    not.    And some do really love it, others tolerate it and some are overwhelmed. So does it make a difference whether you are a man or a woman?

I can remember way back when in the days when I was a young accountant, I used to go to business networking events and they could be pretty stuffy. The attendees were mainly men in suits. I got quite used to being a woman in a man’s world.

But is that what it’s all about? Is networking a man’s game?

Traditionally business networking certainly was a man’s game, things like the Masons, Rotary, Lions Clubs and so on were men only. And it’s not so long ago that the same applied to golf clubs, yacht clubs and similar places.

That’s not to say that only men networked, you would see men networking at these business groups as well as in the coffee shops, at the golf club, the sports club and so on. And the women would be networking at the shops, in each other’s houses, at school and more recently in places like the gym or spa.

Over the years though business has changed, it’s much more open and mixed so you have to play things differently. As a result many organisations have opened up and are much more balanced between men and women. And of course there are also women only networking groups too.

So how does it all affect you as a business person when you want to network?

Well the thing is we are different. We’re all human beings and all business people but the masculine and feminine think and act differently.

Just as in sales it pays to understand the customer and speak their language, so it is in networking. At the end of the day it’s a all about communication, so the better you can understand how to communicate with different people the more effective you can be.

So don’t limit yourself to only half the marketplace, make sure you can connect with both and so maximise your target audience.

And the way to do this is to understand how we do it differently so that you can then adjust and communicate to the other half of the room. None of us can expect the others to communicate like we do, men are more direct with fewer words, whereas women like to chat. Women naturally read non verbal signs better, men are naturally more competitive and look for recognition.

 

We perceive it differently

We tend to have different priorities generally, men do what they need to do to succeed, including being where they need to be and putting in long hours, its built into who they are. Women typically have other priorities and want more a flexible business.

And we define it differently too. Men call anything networking where they could get business, whether it be golf, a formal networking event or whatever. Women on the other hand call all non official networking events, socialising. So to them voluntary groups, school meetings, sports etc is social and not networking (even if they are networking without realising it).

We also often have different business goals and reasons for being in business, which will affect our networking goals and so the way we network.

We are made differently

As you would expect women tend to display more feminine traits and men more masculine traits. So when they are networking women are often better listeners, more likely to actually hear what is said. They want to collaborate so are looking to work together. And they will place a premium on relational aspects of networking, feeling that it is important to get to know fellow attendees.

Men typically are problem solvers and tend to be task oriented and will likely also be interested in status.

We may be looking for different things, the women are often looking beyond just the networking, the men are on a mission, they have a plan and a strategy. They are there for a reason and want to achieve what they set out to do.

These differences are also noticeable in terms of preparing for networking when new to it. Whilst men have a tendency to want to learn to do things on their own, so will dive in to networking and learn on the fly. Whereas a woman is more likely to learn some skills before she goes.

Build on the differences

The bottom line is we are the same but different. We see things differently, are motivated by different things and have different targets. As a result the way we approach networking varies, not only between individuals but between men and women.

If we take the time to understand and learn from each other, we can utilise this information to improve our own networking and communication skills, and ultimately our business results.

 

First published in the Sunday Times of Malta on 22 February 2015. Copyright Julia Mcdaid – author

 

Forget The Theory – Entrepreneurs Need to Be Practical

Be practical as an entrepreneur - www.authenticedge.co.ukWhat do you think? When you first make the leap and set up your own business you had to learn all about how business worked – didn’t you? Well, if you were a perfectionist type then I expect you did. Or maybe you are someone who has to get it right, and get everything lined up before you start? So you delay because everything isn’t quite right.

You don’t have business cards, and your website isn’t right, oh and you don’t have enough followers on Twitter yet……

Does any of this resonate?

Maybe, maybe not.

It won’t get you far…

But where does it get you if you think like that? Not far is the answer, in reality. You won’t get clients and earn money by sitting home playing with your website or perfecting your business cards. Do you even need them anyway?
At the end of the day to get going and make things happen you just have to get on with it.

Here’s the reality. There is only you, you can’t do everything. So forget what you “should” do and do what you can. Focus on the important stuff first. (And that includes knowing what the important stuff is!)

Wherever you go you will always see articles and book and websites telling you all the theory, and how you should set everything up so it is done properly and effectively.

But, being practical, as I’m sure you are being an entrepreneur, these are written for bigger businesses.

Do it your way

You have to do the best you can with what you have got, without killing yourself in the process. Knowing as I do how entrepreneurs are inclined to overwork, I believe this reminder is very important!

Whilst you need to know where you are going and have your targets and so on, you don’t need a formal business plan in the format you would for a bank. not unless you are taking out a loan anyway.

Do you think that Richard Branson had a formal business plan when he set up Virgin Records? Somehow I don’t think so. He may have had some kind of plan but I don’t think he spent thousands getting some accountant to do a fancy formal plan for him.

Work within your budget

It’s the same with all aspects of setting up and running your business. If you are on a budget, you have to work within it, which will influence the decisions you make.

As an individual you only have so much time so you have to prioritise and do what you need to do – which means what is right for you and your business, and your clients.

And because you will never have time to do it all you have to decide what won’t get done. And this is another way to get practical. Delegate the stuff that you don’t; have tie for. There will be stuff that is not urgent and needing your immediate attention, but needs doing. For many this is things like accounts, admin and maybe social media.

Get creative

And again if you’re on a budget how can you make it happen? You need to find a way that works. Obviously you can build your business and sell more to create cashflow to pay for it, but until then you need to be practical. Maybe you can swap or barter services. Be creative, channel those ideas to something useful as well as towards products and creative thinking.

Adapt to suit

There is plenty of theory out there about how to run your business, and it is based on certain assumptions that may or may not apply to you. The bottom line is the academic stuff is based on medium and large businesses, and they are very different to small business. In fact translating big business advice to a small business can be detrimental, because its not appropriate.

So whilst there is sense in it and definitely things you can learn and use for guidance, always be practical, do what suits your business and your resources. Filter out the good bits and adapt. You will know what works and what doesn’t .

Blog first published on www.authenticedge.co.uk

Set up Systems To Make Life Easier

Set up systems to make your business better - Authentic EdgeIn this blog we will have a brief look at the administrative side to your business – the back office, and probably the bit that most business owners hate the most and leave until last!

The disadvantage of doing that though, is that things accumulate, they become messy, and you never know where you are. By being well organised, and getting things cleared regularly you keep your whole business running smoothly.

There are all sorts of records that you need to keep for your business, and paperwork that you need to do. Make sure you know what has to be done and that it gets dealt with promptly and regularly.

To keep your business running smoothly the best thing to do is set up systems. That is a collection of instructions (systems) about how to do things, how to do everything you know about running your business, so that everyone in the business knows, and things are done consistently and perfectly all the time.

If you don’t think this is a good idea then take note, according to research, the key to making a business more valuable is making it LESS dependent on you the business owner… and MORE dependent on systems – so that when you eventually come to sell your business it works just as well for the buyer without you, as it ever did with you. This is also borne out by brokers who sell businesses.

Remember the word SYSTEM actually stands for Save Your Self Time, Earn yourself Money.

It is best to do your systems at the beginning if you can, it is easier and you will have more time. Also that way, your systems can grow with the business, rather than you trying to start a new way of working when you are up and running, and too busy doing the job to think about how it should be done!

(Taken From 101 Secrets of Successful Entrepreneurs – by Julia McDaid)

Working “On” Your Business

Michael gerber, EMyth - tips learnt by Julia McdaidThe distinction between working ‘in’ and working ‘on’ your business is one that most business owners will recognise. And the related advice that, as leaders, we should spend more time working on our business is also widely accepted. But how exactly can we turn those good intentions into action?

Some time ago I was fortunate enough to see Michael Gerber speak live, and this is one of the things he spoke about.

The key learning points from Michael’s seminar were these:

* Entrepreneurs should concentrate on seizing opportunities, and let their managers worry about how to solve problems.

* The entrepreneur’s product is not what the business happens to sell, it is the business itself.

*The role of an entrepreneur isn’t to merely change his or her business – it is to transform it. Change is still connected to the past. Transformation leaps out of the past into the unknown.

* To help them with this transformation process, entrepreneurs should follow the example of Walt Disney by creating a ‘dreaming room’. A room where there are no rules. A room where they spend at least 10 minutes a day thinking about the future, not the past.

* Ultimately there is no difference between a small business and a big business: a big business is just a small business that has done all the right things.

I am a great believer in learning to work on your business, and its one of the things I help my clients with. If you would like to chat about this please get in touch

Crafting Your Unique Selling Proposition

Unique selling propositionDo you already have a great USP? Or are you struggling to nail it? If you want to create or improve yours, these tips will give you a start point.

Below are seven steps for creating a powerful benefit statement to truly differentiate you from your competition.

 
 

•Identify your customers key frustrations

•Redesign your products/services and systems in line with these findings
(or at least the way you present them)

•List the reasons why someone should buy from you

•Turn that list into Unique Selling Propositions

•Create a powerful positioning statement

•Incorporate your USPs and key benefits into everything you do

•What frustrations do your customers have in life?

On top of this learn how best to resolve key frustrations, and give your potential customers exactly what they want so that you attract many, many more customers.

If I can help you in any way, please do get in touch .

Seven Questions to Kickstart Your Week

7 questions to kickstart your week - Julia McdaidI thought I would jot down a few things that might help when you want to focus. By asking yourself questions you will naturally start your brain looking for answers.

This is one way to tap into the subconscious mind, and can be used very powerfully.

So here are seven questions to ask yourself

1. What do I most want to create this week?

2. Who do I need to speak to this week?

3. How will I choose my attitude to impact how I deal with stressful circumstances that arise today?

4. What am I doing that I know isn’t helping my business?

5. How do I really want to serve my clients?

6. What choices will I make today that align my purpose and passion with the tasks awaiting my attention?

7. What can I work on right now that would change everything for me?

Give them some thought, either ask yourself at the start of the day, or the start of the week, or before you go to sleep and let the answers come overnight.

And do let me know how you get on, I’d love to hear what worked for you, and what difference it made.

Secrets of Pricing For Profit

Profit from good pricing strategyLooking at research it has suggested that many business owners believe “Lower Prices = Higher Sales = Higher Profits.” Which is just not true.

Yes customers care about prices but they are not the only thing they care about. Ask yourself how often you switch allegiances from a favourite supermarket, garden centre, pub or restaurant just because a new one has opened up offering slightly lower prices? The truth is, it is more convenient to stay faithful.

So how can your business and marketing strategy mirror that fact? Sell to your customers on the basis of “best value” rather than “lowest price.”
Most importantly, make sure your products and services are exactly what your customers need and want and present your prices in the best possible light.

Here are a few tips for achieving this:

  • Offer guarantees: Customers will part with their money more readily, and pay a higher price, if they know that they can get their money back if something goes wrong.
  • Provide sensational service: Study after study has shown that customers are willing to pay more if you give them great service.
  • Justify your prices: Know the prices of your most expensive competition, demonstrating the savings and benefits from your product and demonstrating that your product is hugely superior and therefore slightly more expensive because…
  •  

    For more information on how you can sell almost anything to almost anybody at almost any price, ask for your copy of our report “Beating The Price Cutters”.

    Always Aim High

    Authentic Edge, Empowering dynamic women entrepreneursAt a sell-out conference a few years back, Sir John Harvey-Jones argued that every company, no matter how small, must aim to be world class in its marketplace. ‘The risks of aiming low’ he said, ‘are far greater than the risks of aiming high’. According to Sir John, the keys to becoming world class include:

     Recognising that, while there is no such thing as a sustainable competitive advantage, competitive disadvantage is self-accelerating. So the only way to stay ahead is to carry on moving faster than everyone else.

     Studying and learning from everybody and anybody, and continuously looking for new ways of doing everything and differentiating ourselves in the marketplace.

     Finding new ways of getting the best from the creativity and energy of our teams. ‘People are capable of incredible things if they are given a chance. Our problem is that we don’t give them that chance.’

     Competing by being smarter, not by being cheaper – because ‘there is no future if the only way we can compete is through cheapness’

    Which of these keys do you already implement in your business, and which might you look at implementing now?

    I’d be interested to hear what you do to stay world class, and what you believe makes a business world class.

    Dancing Lessons For Business

    Lessons from dancing for businessAfter several years without dancing regularly I took myself back to salsa lessons when I was in London, and it prompted me into pondering on a couple of things that seem appropriate in the business world too….

    Firstly, having a buddy. A friend and I uncovered a mutual love of salsa when chatting on the phone, and were both in the space of wanting to get back into it but not “getting round to it” – as you do…………. So we decided to arrange to go together.
    And what this did was make us both accountable, because like anything you haven’t done for a while, the hardest thing is getting yourself there. (The main reason I hadn’t been since I moved away from my regular haunts).

    And this is so true in the business world too, by having a buddy you really serve each other, both in supporting and holding accountable. By connecting regularly with others I stay on track and am regularly getting coaching type input so keeping me moving forward on this journey. I get this from mastermind groups, as well as one to one connections.

    The other thing that has jumped out at me the last couple of weeks is to stay out of your head! Dancing works best when you are in flow, the role of the lady in salsa is to follow the lead of the man, therefore thinking is not required. Yet going to lessons where the moves are quite complicated, for the first time in many years, and being very out of practice, I found myself constantly watching to see what the next move was and make sure I had it right, and one of the guys, quite rightly , told me I didn’t need to watch the instructor, I just needed to keep in time with the music and follow his lead.

    Dancing when you just flow with the music and have fun is easy and smooth, just like being in your heart and following what you love, dancing when you are constantly thinking and worrying what comes next becomes hard work……. hmmm, isn’t that just like our egos? !! How often do you do that in your business life?

    I find I am seeing these metaphors all over the place, more and more. Which I guess is good as it’s a constant reminder of where I want to be compared to where I will be if I stay stuck in that stuff 🙂

    6 Steps From Clarity to Cashflow

    Clarity to cashflowHaving had number of conversations with people about this it feels right to put the concepts down in a blog so you can have them to hand to refer to. So here we are, your 6 steps from Clarity to Cashflow.

    1. Get clear on what you are creating
    It may seem obvious yet is all too often missed or glossed over. The first thing is to take some time out to get really clear on your big vision. Not how much money you want or which car you want to drive either. What is the impact you want to have on the world? What is your business here to do?

    I recommend taking a look at what is important to you and how you want your life and business to be. Ideally get connected to your inner guidance in whatever way works for you. This may be just checking in with your intuition if you’re in the habit of using it, or it may be journaling or meditating. There are plenty of ways to do this.

    2. Identify your market
    Once you have a clear picture of your big vision it will be a lot easier to identify your market. This is the market it is true for you to serve in fulfilling this vision. Who is your ideal client? What do they do? Where do they hang out? What do you do for them? Get really clear on these things, perhaps write down a description of your ideal client too, so you have an image in your mind.

    3. Identify what you will offer them
    Clearly this will vary depending on the nature of your business. The idea is to have your target client in mind, be aware of what their problem is and provide something that is a solution to their problem.

    Maybe you need to spend some time finding out about their problem, doing some research, or maybe you know this already. Maybe it’s obvious from the nature of the client. Once you know this look at your services and products and your skills to see how you can best package them up to give a good and appealing solution.

    4. Identify the lowest effort targets
    What I mean here is the easy to reach potential clients. Make life easy for yourself and start close to home. Start with the people who know you, whether they are existing clients, people in your circles, people who hang out where you do. In amongst these people must be some potential clients for you and your new offer.

    I suggest making a list so it is easy for you to just work through and tick them off, it also gives you a focus and you don’t have to worry about where to start with the next step!

    Be careful not to prejudge too, it so easy to think you know what people want, and they will often surprise you, so leave any preconceptions at home.

    5. Reach out to these connections
    Reach out to the people you have targeted in step 4 and offer them something. It may well not be the full package you have created. At this stage you are introducing them to what you do so think about how you can give them a taster.

    What can you invite them to try that might bring them back for more?

    6. Sign them up
    Ok you might combine 5 & 6 in one step, it depends how you work and what business you are in. Either way the end result is to have your targeted ideal clients start working with you or buying your stuff.

    And once they do you have new cashflow. Congratulations!

    And one caveat, its unlikely you will do all this in a couple of hours. I spend a whole day with clients just on step 1, and we take 3 months to work through the whole process. Take some time out to really get clear at the start then you can implement the later steps.

    Good luck and let me know how you get on…..

    If you would like to talk to Julia about her 90 day program Overwhelmed to Overpaid: Your 90 Day Plan to Create More Clarity, Clients & Cashflow please feel free to schedule a call to discuss it further.

    5 Reasons to be an Optimist

    by Ali Brown

    Reasons to be an Optimist , guest blog on Authentic EdgeNo doubt you’ve heard sayings about happiness and the power of positive thinking. For instance, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” and “some pursue happiness, others create it.” Turns out that optimism truly is a powerful force. And, regardless of your circumstances or personal setbacks, you can choose to approach life with a positive outlook. Transforming negative thoughts into positive ones does increase your chances of success!

    Now, if your inner skeptic is saying, “Bah… humbug!” and you’re still not convinced here are five findings that prove the power of positivity.

    1. Optimism can lead to longevity. Several studies have confirmed that those with a positive attitude often live longer than their gloomier counterparts. A study performed at Wagening University in the Netherlands examined nearly a thousand men and women. The predicting factor of their longevity was their agreement with the statement – “I still have goals to strive for.” When subjects were tested nine years after the original survey, the death rates of the optimistic men were 63 percent lower than those who had not agreed with the optimistic statement. Women were 35 percent lower. Scientists believe that optimists who have more to live for often make more positive lifestyle choices that may help prolong their life.

    2. Optimism can boost sales. A study of the sales personnel at Metropolitan Life Insurance were tested for optimism and success ratios. Those who scored the highest level of optimism sold a whopping 37 percent more life insurance than those who were identified as pessimists. Not too bad for your bottom line, right?

    3. Optimism may improve your ability to do business in other ways. One of the most dreaded parts of running a business is collecting from delinquent customers or clients. But a study done on debt collectors in a large, competitive agency found that the most successful collectors in the agency were shown to have much higher scores in the areas of optimism, independence, and self-actualization.
    All great traits that can boost your success in business and in life.

    4. Optimism nurtures healthy relationships. According to author and Harvard medical professor Dr. George E. Vaillant, our greatest source of resilience comes from our internal capacity for optimism. In his famous book The Wisdom of Ego, Vaillant writes that the healthiest, most resilient people possess “both the capacity to be bent without breaking and the capacity, once bent, to spring back.”

    5. Optimism is contagious. A physician and social scientist at Harvard Medical School studied nearly five thousand people and their connections with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers over the course of twenty years. The outcome? According to the study, which was published in the British Medical Journal last year, our next-door neighbor’s joy increases the likelihood that we will also be happy by up to 34 percent. The study also found that our level of happiness impacts not only those in our immediate circle, but also people two and three degrees removed from us.

    Optimism allows us to successfully navigate life’s greatest challenges. Remember, we have the power to be aware of our thoughts and to choose the positive every single day.
    QUESTION: Starting today, what area(s) of your life can you infuse with more optimism? Make a list, and share your intention in the comment box below.
    ==========
    © 2013 Ali International, LLC

    “Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow a profitable business that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Success Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at www.AliBrown.com“

    Why Exactly Are You Doing This?

    Whay are you doing what you do? Its critical to know - blog from Julia Mcdaid on Authentic EdgeDo you stop to think why you are doing what you are doing? Do you know already? I think you will find that every successful business leader has a clear answer to this key question: Why are you building this company? Who does it serve and what’s your greater purpose? Answering questions like these costs you very little, and it can pay huge dividends.

    For some entrepreneurs, their main purpose is simply to create a business that can be sold. They may have a talent for seeing a need and designing systems to meet the need while making a profit, and they love starting new businesses. Once the company is established, they often sell it and often repeat the process again and again through the years.

    Most small business owners will generally have some other purpose in mind, and it is often deeply personal. For example, some want to build a company they can pass on to their children. Others may want to see how large and profitable they can make it, and they will dream of a vast enterprise with thousands of employees. Whilst others want a business that expresses their values or contributes to society in some way.

    In their experience of working with entrepreneurs many coaches find that it does not seem to matter what the reason actually is. What matters is the ability to keep it in sight at all times.

    Knowing your personal vision, your purpose or mission, the ‘reason why we do this’, is absolutely critical.

    Which means the answer to what you have to do is simple: Keep your eyes on the prize! Step back, gain perspective, renew your commitment. Remember WHY you are doing this! If you are clear enough about the ‘why’, either you’ll figure out the ‘how’, or the answers will come to you.