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.

Who Are You Judging?

Don't criticize what you don't understand. Who are you judging? Authentic EdgeIn the last couple of weeks I have experienced a couple of people criticising others choices, I suspect without fully knowing the circumstances, or understanding what has brought them to that decision.

Because how can any of us know, really, what is going on for anyone else? How can we do any more than imagine what is going on for them?

We all know the saying “don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes” yet judgement and criticism seem rife.

I suspect for 99% of us even our closest friends don’t know everything there is to know about us. All our history, experience, thoughts, beliefs, circumstances… you name it. It’s not possible to know another that well.

So why is it so easy to assume that we do, and we know best

Would we not just be better focusing on making the best we can of our own lives? In my experience the biggest critics are not the most successful or wealthy people.

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.
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© 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.

Managing Your Business At a Glance

Enjoy business success by knowing exactly what is going on
In order to properly manage your business and plan where you are going it is helpful to be closely in touch with what is going on. This includes looking at the numbers. Up to date accounts at least tell you where you are now.

But is that enough? I would suggest that in fact that is just the starting point. The thing is, you can have monthly accounts, and if you have a half decent accountant you will have some indication as to whether things are better or worse than last year and budget.

That is only half the story, if your profits are down, is that enough information? I would say not. You then need to ask why? Why are they down , what is the explanation? What is the detail?
For example, sales may actually be up, but some unexpected cost came in that wiped out the benefit and caused profit to be lower. So then you need to know what caused the extra cost, is it a one off, could it have been prevented and so on.

Do you start to see how digging a little deeper r gives a much better understanding.
It’s worth asking your accountant to produce reports with notes that cover this sort of thing, so that when you review the figures all the information is there. Yes they may need to come to you first to ask for explanations, or the appropriate department in you company.

For example:

Actual Budget Diff
Turnover  £5,400  £4,500 £900   orders planned in September brought forward to July
Costs:
Training  £300  £150   £150 Jane went on extra course to help improve our Social Media

         
It’s always good to use colour too, red for worse than expected and green for better than expected. Again it allows you to see at a glance, and just focus on the things that are off track.
Your most important financial information can easily be reported on one sheet of paper.

Taking this further there are also key factors that will drive your business underlying the sales and costs. It is worth measuring these too.

It may take a little bit of work to set up but the advantages of being able to see where your business is compared to the plan is very valuable. To do this we can use a Key Results Sheet.

This incorporates the highlight financial numbers like profit, cash and value (if appropriate)
It then looks at some underlying factors, so for sales you might measure the number of new referrals, and the average spend per customer as examples. For costs maybe the cost per unit if you sell items in units, debtor days etc.

Also look at non financial drivers, like customer satisfaction and team happiness and how much investment there is in creating new products. You can see an example below.

I believe if you combine this with a one page financial summary you have a quick and easy summary of all the data you need to manage your business month to month.

Maybe if it’s just you, you will think its too much, and too much work. If you are building a business, start as you means to go on, get the systems I now. You can always start with a simpler version and build it as you grow.

How does this relate to me working with you to be authentic in your business? Well for one you need to manage your business and your results. And you have to know where you are starting from, so its good to have a grip of the reality as it is now, then we build on that to create the business your heart would really love to create. Combining practical business and intuition for a more holistic approach is my unique skill.

Help! I Don’t Even Know What My Purpose Is….

I don't know what my purpose is!This is a place I understand all too well, as I was there! That was me. So what do I recommend for you if you are a woman who doesn’t yet know what her purpose and passion is?

To be honest I will rephrase that and say if you don’t yet know consciously. Because I believe we all know deep down, it’s just that sometimes it’s so deep it can take us a while to find it or recognise it!

And that is my first point, know that it doesn’t automatically happen overnight. Some people have a flash of inspiration and just know, for others, for many of us, it can take a lot longer and needs some focussed attention.

So I would suggest taking some time to get connected to your heart, learn how to listen and interpret what is true for you. It will be easier for some than others, though that is no reason to despair. There are lots of things you can do and exercises you can learn to support you in this.

So spend time connecting to your heart, find out what works for you, listen to what comes through, and you will at some point find out what it is you really want to do. Initially you may just have the essence of it not the detail, it will come.

To help you in the process you may find it helpful to invest in a coach, its often easier and clearer to have two of you focused on the outcome, I found this true for me. Sometimes we don’t trust or believe our own intuition and when it is reinforced by someone else we are more willing to accept the truth of it. You also usually get a deeper and wider understanding. Or if you have an intuitive friend you can work with them.

I find that journaling can be good too, it allows you to expand on what comes to you and to stay connected to your imagination and your intuition for longer, so you can get deeper insights.

And all the time do your best to trust the process, believe in your own guidance and receive the messages and signs that come to you, stay open to possibility. When something is really true you will just know, however that shows up for you, you will feel it. So whatever your head might say, whatever thoughts you have about what you feel, know that it’s your heart that is right.

Biggest Learning Curves From My Early Days In Business

Tips from my learning to help your businessWith all the talk about what I have learned over the years, I have to say there is plenty to share with you at the moment!

Today I am going to take a quick look at some of the things that were MY biggest learning curves, way back when I set up in business, and in the early years.

One of the first and something that is ongoing, however long you have been in business, is the need for Boundaries if you work from home. I’ve worked from home for probably the majority of my 17+ years self employed. When I started we didn’t have ipads and smartphones, email was on one computer, the one in the office. I remember going to check on personal email and ending up spending 2 hours on work stuff in the evening…. not good.

Now its much harder because everything is mobile and with us all the time, yet I still think we need boundaries, we need to draw a line around business and have some down time. One easy way to help is have two phones, one for personal and one for business, then leave the business one at home when you are on social time (YES at home, leave it behind, its OK)

Something else I had to learn was Marketing. When I started out all I knew was what I had learned on a one day course designed for new business owners! And I know I’m not alone, its absolutely essential yet most of us start our business with zero knowledge. I had to learn it all, and one key thing I found out is if you’re doing it, it works, even though don’t necessarily get the clients from where you are active or where you think. If you stop taking action you stop getting results. So even if you don’t know about all the ways you can market your business, do what you can and do it consistently and well. Its all about relationships at the end of the day, focus on building relationships and watch what unfolds.

And on the subject of taking action and things coming to you, that works in many ways, we do attract our clients, co-workers and even suppliers. I wasn’t as aware back then as I am now, and when I started I didn’t appreciate that my biggest client came to me, I didn’t go looking. I had this client before I had actually given up the job to start my business!

If you do work with others, always have agreements in writing. Doesn’t matter if they are friends and you think you both want the same thing, there may be things you didn’t think of, or changes may happen you couldn’t have foreseen.

And if you decide to go into business with someone else, make sure you know what you are getting into, and be careful not to put all your eggs into one basket until you are really sure. I’d definitley recommend having a trial period.

And find out why they really want to work with you, discuss and write down what each person is bringing to the arrangement, think of clients, time, money, and ask what do you each expect out of it. Make sure you want the same thing and are happy that your ideas and plans are compatible.

And as your business moves forward take care to balance growth and affordability, you need some of the profits for you, and for expenses and taxes, you can’t invest them all up front. One example might be when taking on staff, yes you need to take staff on to expand, and yes you will certainly earn more as you have more resources, I won’t dispute that, just make sure to manage it and manage the timing. And again be careful who you take advice from.

So there you have it, what I consider to be my biggest learnings, outside my personal growth. I hope it saves you some time and effort along the way.

Top Tips For Running A Successful, Purpose Driven Business

Top Tips from Julia McdaidToday is the day you can hear my interview on the Soulfully Successful Women Telesummit.

One of the things Kelly and I talked about in preparation for the Telesummit were my top tips to build a successful business from your passion and purpose. After thinking about this I came up with these, and I thought you might find them useful.

Firstly is follow your heart. If you are not familiar with the phrase, learn to understand what this means. To me it’s about doing it YOUR way, BEing you, being authentic and in integrity. Following your heart is about doing what is true for you, what you wnt deep down inside when yu stop listening to all those doubts and questions in your head! Its not what is expected or what you know. In fact I can’t emphasise enough, don’t just do what you know – unless it really is your passion and purpose.

The next thing I would say, which really follows on from the first is to connect with your intuition, and use it. It is your intuition which will guide you and tell you what is true for you, this is what allows you to follow your heart.

Another thing that many of us as women need to learn, because we are not very good at it, is to learn to receive. We women are naturally givers and often find this hard to do. Again this may need more explanation and understanding, I know it would have meant little to me when I started out. Here I’m referring to allowing your feminine side out, to allowing things to come to you, to be graceful and gracious and open in the way you interact. When you start thinking about attracting the right clients and people to you it pays to know how to receive (not dismiss things without thinking!).

I think it is great to remember to keep things balanced too, although this is enough to be a blog in itself and I have written about it before. Part of this is knowing you are number one, put you first. Then also think about masculine & feminine energies in the business, and in you; about having time for the non work aspects of your life, the people and things that are important to you.

And a couple of more practical tips for you:

Get the right support network around you. This will allow you to play to your strengths. so look at advisors, mentors, peers, the people you interact with and look to for help. Plus your business structure, you can set this up so that it works for you and your lifestyle, delegating where appropriate and so on – learn to delegate well. This one is still on my “must do better” list I will be honest, I find it hard sometimes.

And when it comes to using people outside of the business to help you, especially if you are paying them, don’t use advisors who only have corporate experience, because they won’t get you and they won’t understand the peculiarities of small business, whatever they might say. This is one I learned the hard way.

And finally, this kind of ties into where I started, do let go of the “shoulds” and “ought to’s“. If you are running a purpose driven business it’s about your passion, your purpose, you and your clients, it’s not about what somebody else who doesn’t know those things says you should do. Yes there are some things you have to comply with legally, every business does, outside that its your business, your way, always.

I hope you find some of these tips useful and if you have any good ones, please do share them 🙂

Managing Your Business At a Glance

In order to properly manage your business and plan where you are going it is helpful to be closely in touch with what is going on. This includes looking at the numbers. Up to date accounts at least tell you where you are now.

planning is key, know the fundamentalsBut is that enough? I would suggest that in fact that is just the starting point. The thing is, you can have monthly accounts, and if you have a half decent accountant you will have some indication as to whether things are better or worse than last year and budget.

That is only half the story, if your profits are down, is that enough information? I would say not. You then need to ask why? Why are they down , what is the explanation? What is the detail?

For example, sales may actually be up, but some unexpected cost came in that wiped out the benefit and caused profit to be lower. So then you need to know what caused the extra cost, is it a one off, could it have been prevented and so on.

Do you start to see how digging a little deeper gives a much better understanding.

It’s worth asking your accountant to produce reports with notes that cover this sort of thing, so that when you review the figures all the information is there. Yes they may need to come to you first to ask for explanations, or the appropriate department in you company.

For example

Actual Budget Diff
Turnover £5,400 £4,500 £900 orders planned in September brought forward to July
Costs:
Training £300 £150 £150 Jane went on extra course to help improve our Social Media

           
     
It’s always good to use colour too, red for worse than expected and green for better than expected. Again it allows you to see at a glance, and just focus on the things that are off track.

Your most important financial information can easily be reported on ONE sheet of paper.

Taking this further there are also key factors that will drive your business underlying the sales and costs. It is worth measuring these too.

It may take a little bit of work to set up but the advantages of being able to see where your business is compared to the plan is very valuable. To do this we can use a Key Results Sheet.

This incorporates the key financial numbers for your business like profit, cash and value (if appropriate)

It then looks at some underlying factors, so for sales you might measure the number of new referrals, and the average spend per customer as examples. For costs maybe the cost per unit if you sell items in units, debtor days etc.
Also look at non financial drivers, like customer satisfaction and team happiness and how much investment there is in creating new products.

I believe if you combine this with a one page (max) financial summary you have a quick and easy view of all the data you need to manage your business month to month.

Maybe if it’s just you, you will think its too much, and too much work. If you are building a business, start as you means to go on, get the systems in now. You can always start with a simpler version and build it as you grow.

How does this relate to me working with you to be authentic in your business? Well my packages include a good look at your business foundation and fundamentals, giving you a grip of the reality as it is now, plus an overview of what you need to implement to build the business your heart would really love to create. Combining practical business and intuition for a more holistic approach is my unique skill.
Book your free Authentic Business Strategy session to get some pointers, and to see whether its for you

Is Your Service Sensational??

Customer service is an area that is key to any business, and more and more it is becoming one of the main ways to differentiate your business from the one down the road. Think about when you go out for a meal, if you have a fantastic meal but the service is appalling, you are unlikely to go back, yet if the food is average but the service is brilliant, you are more likely to go again.

Delighted customers mean more and better businessI’m sure over the last month you must have experienced differing levels of service when out and about, I know I have. In one well known store last week a member of staff actually pushed in front of me to buy something for herself before allowing her colleague to serve me, can you believe that?!

If you read about customer service you will see that there are three main levels of service, Sensational, Sickening and Satisfactory. And which of those do you think never gets talked about?
Satisfactory. So if you provide satisfactory service, no-one will remember you. If on the other hand you provide Sensational or Sickening service then your customers will tell other people.

So which do you want to be known for? We have all heard the statistics about how many people unhappy customers tell about their experience, so make sure you don’t become one of those businesses. Aim for Sensational service – not only will you be talked about for the right reasons, you can almost certainly charge more too!

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there”

Steps towards your goalsWhat do you want to achieve?
Before you actually set up, did you decide what you wanted to achieve with your business?
If you are already in business, review where you are going – are you clear about this?

Why not take some time out to think about and write down your goals for your business?

Write it down
Research shows that only 3% of people write down their goals, and on average these people earn 10 times those who don’t have goals. Plus research shows that people with up to date written goals are as much as 3100% more successful than people who do not have up to date written goals.

And make sure your business goals don’t conflict with things you want to do personally. When you are thinking about your goals, think about and write down your personal goals too. And if you are a multi owner business you will obviously need to discuss your responses with your colleagues, and agree on a shared set of goals for the business.

SMART goals? or not…
Make sure that the goals you write are meaningful to you, clear and in the main, measurable.

Many business people like to use SMART. What does this mean? It stands for:

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Relevant
Timed
Apply these five measures to each of your goals.

Personally, I have moved away from using this means of planning as it is often driven by what we think we should do, and ends up being out of integrity. I now prefer to look at things from a wider perspective, and just use the SMART technique for specific things.

What does it mean to you in reality?
Once you have written down your goal, think about what the effects would be if you didn’t achieve it. What is the “pain” that you and those you love will experience if you don’t achieve your goal, ie ill health, poverty, unhappiness etc. (Why do this? Because recognising this pain is an enormous motivating force that will help you to work even harder to make sure you don’t fail!)
Then decide what you will gain when you succeed – ie wealth, health, happiness, a prosperous retirement etc. What will you see, hear and feel? And what else will your success allow you to achieve/do?
And finally write down the key things you will need in order to achieve your goal. For example, it could be new resources, contacts, skills, actions etc.
Repeat this process using a new sheet for every single goal you would like to achieve.

Prioritise
Next try and prioritise the goals you have written. Lay out all of your goals in front of you and decide which are the most important to you, which are less important and which (if any) are, on reflection, not important after all.

For each goal that is still important work out how you will achieve it, break it down in to smaller steps to make it easier to manage.

Plan in timescales to do each step, write them into your diary or planner. That way you make reaching your goals part of your daily activities.

Look at your where your time goes
Its worth having a look at how you spend your time at the moment, and comparing this to the way you would like your life to happen. Then you can fit your goals into this as well.

To do this, look at the personal goals you set out and list out the broad areas of your life that are important to you eg family, friends, business, health, fitness, money etc

Make a note of the percentage of your waking time that you would like to spend in each of these areas in an ideal world (make sure that the column adds up to 100%)

Estimate approximately the percentage of your waking time you think you are actually spending in each area at the moment, – just a rough and ready approximation here, don’t waste time trying to get pinpoint accuracy… the aim is just to get a broad feel

Then calculate the gap between the two.
Looking at the gaps does it suggest that you need to make changes in order to achieve your goals? If it does, what changes are you going to make?

Next steps
Think carefully about everything you have just done and thought about. What are the implications for what you are doing in your business and your life – and what you would be best served doing?

Transfer the things you need to be doing to an action planner. Keep this somewhere where you won’t lose sight of it, so that you are reminded on a daily basis about what you want to achieve.

If you think it would help contact an advisor, mentor or coach to discuss what else you can do to achieve your goals. Sometimes it helps to go through the whole exercise with a third party, who can be more objective and help you to focus on the right things.

Review your action planner. Prioritise it. And start taking action!

And remember, however good your ideas and intentions are… they will come to absolutely nothing unless they are turned into action.

So focus on taking ACTION. And start taking it today.

If you want a really focused, in depth look at where you want your business to go, book a VIP Vision Day with Julia, and get things moving right away.

Appreciate the Small Things

jar of gratitudeIf you are on Facebook you may well have seen this idea doing the rounds. I think it’s well worth revisiting.

For those who haven’t seen it, the idea is to write down any good things that happen every day on a small piece of paper, and to save them in a jar. Then at the end of the year you can read them all and remind yourself of all the good things that have happened.

Because I think all too often we forget the good things that happen and get too busy beating ourselves up about what we didn’t do, or don’t have.

I have started doing this for 2013 and I’m having great fun with it already, and we’re only on day 2!

For example today I received a cheque in the post, received an unexpected present and had a new client sign up. So I have been back three times to add a note to the jar. There is no way by 31 December I would remember any of that without some record.

It’s also giving me a feel good factor as I make a point of noting down good things, I find I am more aware and more appreciative. Which can only be a good thing, so that is an added benefit.

 

Have you done anything like this? What do you think?

 

And for those who would appreciate a free gift to start things off, I am offering a Business Focus Breakthrough Session every day throughout January. Normally I limit them to just a few, so take advantage 🙂

To book yours just fill out your details on the Contact Form today stating you are claiming a free session