Crisis Management Public Relations Done Right

When something goes horribly wrong and your business is involved it is always good to be prepared and have a plan.

“A crisis is defined as a significant threat to operations that can have a negative consequence if not handled properly.”

-  Timothy Coombs  -

Therefore, any threat big or small has the potential to escalate and get out of control if not handled properly, for example the United Airlines Overbooking of Passengers Incident. The crisis occurring on Sunday the 9th of April saw a 69-year-old man physically removed from the aircraft after he refused to give up his seat. This incident was recorded and uploading to Social Media channels to show the rough and unacceptable conduct of security in removing the passenger. United’s first media release was late Sunday night stating that the flight was overbooked, volunteers were requested and a passenger was removed by law enforcement. A twitter statement was then released by United Airlines over 24 hours after the incident apologising for the overbooked situation but not the treatment of the passenger. After investigation, the Chicago Department of Aviation stated that the actions taken were not in accordance with operating procedures and were not appropriate. Since then an official apology has been made and a confidential settlement.

This incident highlighted the need for businesses to address crisis’s immediately and apologise if in the wrong. Every business should have a Crisis Management Plan in place in preparation for any possible crisis.

Crisis Management Plan:

1.       Determine what and where a possible crisis may occur and who will be in charge

  • Identify possible crisis situations
  • Create multiple crisis response plans
  • Select a small team of key executives and PR personnel to be in charge of the response 

2.       Train chosen Management Team and staff in communication, speaking and key messages

  • Create a key message to present to the media, consumers and post on social media channels to ensure consistent information.
  • Prepare staff to speak effectively to the media
  • Create and learn a key message/response to the issue
  • Choose a key individual to address the media in public/TV

 3.       What monitoring systems will be put in place

  • Have an establish and growing social media community 
  • Monitor website, social media and internet comment references to determine the public’s view point.

4.       Develop immediate responses

  • Time is needed to investigate, analyse and review the situation so have some general statements for the media prepared to allow for time to get the situation under control and determine what went wrong.

5.       Analyse Crisis Management

  • Review the situation, the time it took to get the situation under control and the damage to the business and its reputation.
  • Review the Crisis Management Plan and determine where the business did well and where improvements can be made or avoided.

A crisis can come at any time, therefore measures need to be in place to avoid them from happening and if unavoidable a plan to manage the crisis. Take time to create a Crisis Management Plan for the business using the outline above and be as detailed as possible.

Customer Engagement: Why it matters and how to get it right

Engaging with your customers successfully through Strategic Marketing is crucial for any business but especially for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Customer engagement is the repetitive interaction between customers and a brand that build and strengthen brand recognition and preference. This association allows for a brand to become the product of choice by consumers allowing for competitive advantage within the market. Engagement has found to be most popular when the product or service has been personalised to specific individuals as it makes the customer feel unique and their purchase appreciated.

Coke has created a very successful personal engagement connection with their consumers through the Share a Coke campaign where coke bottles were printed with personalised names. Unsure of the times, as social media was only still new, Share a Coke focused mainly on TV but quickly found that the excitement and word-of-mouth from consumers was mainly on social media. This then opened the doors for branded social media campaigns globally, allowing for consumers to go offline to find their personalised product and then go back online (social media) to share with all their friends. This campaign resulted in a 6.8% global increase on Coke’s Facebook page and an increase of 2.5% increase in total sales. This campaign resulted in a positive customer response with an increase brand awareness and active search for the personalised names of the customers.

Why Coca Cola Succeeded:

  • Made their consumers feel important and valued with the personalisation of bottles
  • Made a personal connection
  • Shared consumer content on Social Media and Advertising platforms
  • Created large amounts of word-of-mouth through successful marketing 

How can small businesses do this:

  • When sending products, include a personalised letter to the customer
  • Personalised replies to customers on all communication and social media platforms
  •  Posting photos of your consumers using the product on your social media
  • Listen to your customers and ensure you respond to their requests
  • Promote customer loyalty as two-way

Expected Results:

  • Increased consumer brand awareness
  • Increased word-of-mouth
  • Creation of a relationship between your business are your consumers and target market
  • Increase of sales

Whether your business is as big as Coca Cola or is only in the early stages of business it is important to remember your customers and ensure that your products, services and communications are personalised in order to create a high level of consumer engagement.

 

Four things every Small Business needs to know about the Federal Budget

The Federal Budget unveiled almost two weeks ago proved that the Federal Coalition are shifting their view from big enterprise to small business driving Australia’s economic future. It was a budget with a range of wins for small business, specifically those with a turnover of less than $10 million and if the measures are passed and can be retained over the next decade, they’ll have a huge positive impact on the success of our businesses.

1. Reduced Tax Rate

Over the next decade, the Federal Government will reduce the tax burden on small businesses by reducing the tax rate to 27.5% immediately for businesses with a turnover of $10 million or under and by 2026, reducing it to 25% for all small business with turnovers up to $1 billion. The tax reduction works as a slider bringing all small business onto an equal playing field over the next ten years.

2. Unincorporated Small Business Tax Discount

Businesses (not companies) with a turnover of less than $5 million will receive an additional 8% discount on their tax bill with the maximum discount available sitting at $1,000. Over the next decade this discount will expand to a final discount of 16%. The government estimates that around 2.3 businesses will have access to this discount each year.

3.  Increased Tax Concessions

Existing tax concessions will be become more freely available as the government increases the threshold from $2 million to $10 million. The tax thresholds businesses will have access to include: 

  • Simplified depreciation rules, including immediate tax deductibility for asset purchases costing less than $20,000 until 30 June 2017
  • Simplified trading stock rules, giving them the option to avoid end of year stocktake if the value of their stock has changed by less than $5,000;
  • A simplified method of paying PAYG instalments calculated by the ATO, which removes the risk of under or over estimating PAYG instalments and the resulting penalties that may be applied;
  • The option to account for GST on a cash basis and pay GST instalments as calculated by the ATO;
  • Other tax concessions currently available to small businesses, such as fringe benefits tax (FBT) exemptions (from 1 April 2017 to align with the FBT year); and
  • A trial of simpler business activity statements (BAS), reducing GST compliance costs, with a full roll-out from 1 July 2017.

4. Access to financing sources

Asset backed financing will now be given the same tax treatment as conventional financing. This type of financing is suited to infrastructure support or development and large, long-term projects.

 

So there you have it – the benefits for small business outlined! Scott Morrison told The Australian that people “instinctively” saw that a strong small business would mean conditions were better for workers and the broader economy and given just how valuable the small business sector is to our economy, it’s about time. We as small businesses are responsible for the employment of over 3 million people and contribute $340 to our economy each year.

Backbone of Australia? We like to think so.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts about the budget, please feel free to get in touch with us. 

Copyright

Copyright is defined as “a form of intellectual property that protects the original expression of ideas. It enables creators to manage how their content is being used” (Copyright Agency 2017).

Unlike a patent or a trademark, copyright is an automatic legal right given to the creator the moment the work is created. It does not have to be legally documented or approved, only created. There have been many breaches of copyright throughout the years the major issues are in relation to art, music and literary. This does not occur to as many physical creations (inventions) as they would have been patented or trademarked by their creators.

It is important to also take note that there are exceptions to the rules of copyright which include: research or study, review, satire, news reporting, public art etc. These exceptions are allowed due to the piece of work not being replicated or taken but reviewed, analysed or discussed.  

How long does your copyright lasts?

Copyright duration relies on several factors; time of creation, date of publication and death of creator.

  • Published, created or a death before 1955, the copyright has expired.
  • As of 2005 the limit on copyright material extended from 50 years to 70 years after the death of the creator.
  • Resale loyalties also have a limited of 70 years after the death of the creator.
  • Refer to Copyright Agency for more information 

For example, the use of images not being referenced or classified as “free”, “stock” or information not referenced creates a breach in copyright. It is crucial when you are representing your business through blog posts you refer your readers to where you got your ideas and images, to give credit where credit is due. If you fail to do so there is an opening for conflict and possible law suit for taking someone else’s work as your own.

To avoid conflict, when you have researched a topic make sure you link a key word to the writer or website you got your idea off, to both credit them and to also direct your readers to more information on the topic. Regarding images, either take your own photos, use someone else’s photo while both linking and crediting or visit stock photo websites.

Stock photo websites:

StockSnap.io

Pixabay

Pexels

Unsplash

Burst

If the necessary steps are taken in referencing, crediting or using free images there should be no risk of you or your company breaching copyright while creating a colourful and interesting brand for your business.

CEO Activism: Do you join the bandwagon or not?

How often do you read the paper in the morning, come across a social issue and want to, so very badly, write a letter to the editor explaining your viewpoint and justifying it to the last discrepancy? It’s a feeling that most of you reading this will know on some level and some of you may have even done it. But how do you feel about doing it when your name is publicly tied to your business? Do you feel the same way? Do you have that same passion in wanting your voice to be heard? For a lot of CEO’s, it turns out the answer is yes. The question is – are you one of them?

Harvard Business School professor Mike Toffel and his coauthor Aaron Chatterji, have identified this phenomenon and labelled it “CEO Activism”. Corporate executives are increasingly speaking out about social and environmental issues not related to their business activities and it is doing interesting things.

Firstly, it is influencing public opinion on an issue – when the ‘public’ already has a positive affinity for the executive or company. The professors conducted a study on public support for a law in Indiana that allowed businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian customers as a matter of religious freedom. They were surveyed and 50% of the respondents said they supported it. However, this decreased to just 40% when they were informed that Apple CEO Tim Cook opposed it. Interestingly, they both preceded and followed these questions up with a question about interest in Apple products. It rose on a five-point scale from 2.7 to 3.02.

That leads us into the second point, that yes – CEO Activism can influence public perception of a business. In a study carried out by Global Strategy Group it was revealed that 26 to 30 year olds are 20% more likely to purchase from companies whose social political stance mirrors their own. Conversely, when a company does not share the same social political stance as someone in the 56 or older age group, they are 16.2% less likely to purchase from the company.

That information really leaves us with one question for CEOs – with that kind of impact, is CEO Activism something you really want to dabble in?

Ask yourself these questions and you should develop a clear idea…

Reflect on your customer – are your values and opinions likely to be aligned?

If yes, then it could have a very positive impact. If no, it could be detrimental to business and its time to start searching for a new market.

Consider your corporate values – does your opinion support and reflect these?

If yes, that’s great because people cannot accuse of hypocrisy. If no, then perhaps your company is not a vehicle to share personal opinions.

Ask yourself why – why do you want to share your opinion?

If it’s to make a change, difference or impact, then you have the right motive. If it’s because it’s popular and you want to squeeze that extra brand loyalty out of your customers who share the same stance, don’t do it. It’s a recipe for disaster and while it may work once or twice, three times the charm is just unheard of when it comes to non-genuine activism.

So there you have it, if those were positive answers, then follow in the footsteps of Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, Apple CEO Tim Cook, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman and H&M CEO Karl Johan Persson. Voice your opinions and see what power your brand can conjure. But if they were negative answers, then leave it to the big guys.

 

How do you feel about CEO Activism? Do you think there’s a place for it in the Australian business landscape?

10 Entrepreneurs to follow on Social Media

In this day and age with social media being a huge part of our lives it is important that you aren’t just using it for socialising but also for information, learning and inspiration. With many successful entrepreneurs sharing glimpses into their lives, businesses and how they found success, you are guaranteed to find some golden lessons that will help you on your journey.

 

Richard Branson

Virgin Group

The founder of the Virgin group which controls over 400 companies internationally is a must follow on social media. Richard shows a glimpse into his personal life, as well as business tips, great quotes, must see documentaries and lifestyle guides for entrepreneurs to ensure more success.

Twitter                  @richardbranson

Facebook            Richard Branson

Instagram           richardbranson

YouTube              Richard Branson

 

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook

Computer Programmer and Internet Entrepreneur who has revolutionised social networking and social media across the world. Mark’s social media takes you through the adventure and excitement that is his life. From meeting word leaders to new technologies, continuing to inspire your entrepreneurial journey.

Twitter                  @finkd

Facebook            Mark Zuckerberg

Instagram           zuck

 

Arianna Huffington

The Huffington Post

Author, Columnist, Actress, Business Woman and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post. Arianna’s social media pages introduce a world of effective leadership, time management, importance of sleep, work-life balance and empowerment of women in business.

Twitter                  @ariannahuff

Facebook            Arianna Huffington

Instagram           ariannahuff

YouTube              Arianna Huffington

 

Simon Sinek

Start With Why

Author, Motivational Speaker and Marketing Consultant, Simon Sinek changed the way marketing is perceived with his Start With Why, inspiring entrepreneurs and businesses to change the way they market to their consumers. Simon’s social media explores positive thinking, leadership tips and business quotes, continuously changing the way you think about business. 

Twitter                  @simonsinek

Facebook            Simon Sinek

Instagram           simonsinek

YouTube              SimonSinek

 

Sheryl Sandbarg

Facebook

Technology Executive, Activist, Author, COO of Facebook and Founder of Leanin.org, Sheryl is breaking new ground for women in business, becoming the first woman to serve on Facebook’s Board. Sheryl’s social media welcomes you on her journey promoting technology, social networking and women in business.

Twitter                  @sherylsandberg           

Instagram           sherylsandberg

 

Kevin Systrom

Instagram

Entrepreneur, Programmer and Co-Founder and CEO of Instagram introducing a new form of social media built on photos and instant feedback. Kevin’s social media shares both his personal and professional goals, technology safety and his love of cycling, continuing to show where hard work and passion can take you.

Twitter                  @kevin

Facebook            Kevin Systrom

Instagram           kevin

 

Alexis Ohanian

Reddit

Entrepreneur, Activist, Investor, Author and Co-Founder of Reddit.com, changing the way of social news, reflecting the ratings given by the readers and discussions on topics held. Alexis allows you to take a glimpse into his personal life showing his passion in tennis, motivational speaking, continual learning and changing the world for the better.   

Twitter                  @alexisohanian

Facebook            Alexis Ohanian

Instagram           alexisohanian

 

Bill Gates

Microsoft

Business Magnate, Author, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist and Founder of Microsoft, the largest PC software company in the world, making roughly $10 million a day. Bill uses his social media to share statistics, investment opportunities, philanthropic movements and the importance of vaccinations.

Twitter                  @billgates

Facebook            Bill Gates

 

Larry Page

Google

Computer Scientist, Internet Entrepreneur and Co-Founder of Google Inc., Larry revolutionised easy access to information on a grand scale. Instead of minimal, unorganised information and books, Google introduced readily available organised access to specific information. Larry uses his social media pages to share business tips and quotes and the amazing world that is Google Inc.

Twitter                  @q_larrypage

Facebook            Larry Page (Co-Founder of Google, Inc.)

Instagram           larrypageofficial

 

Lisa Messenger

The Messenger Group

Author, Entrepreneur, Founder of The Messenger and Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Collective. The Messenger Group has expanded rapidly from its humble beginnings in 2001, now including many different aspects of business including, publishing, events, marketing consulting, homewares and a lifestyle website. Lisa uses her social media platforms to encourage entrepreneurs to push the boundaries and cause disruption within business to creating bigger and better things.

Twitter                @LisaMessenger

Facebook            Lisa Messenger

Instagram           lisamessenger

 

These ten Entrepreneurs share a glimpse into their passions, plans, personal lives and businesses allowing their audience to share in the experience and learn lessons along the way. Each of these Entrepreneurs began small, like all start-ups and with hard work, determination and a good idea, have created these amazing companies leading us into the future.

 

10 Great Apps for Small Businesses

As running a business can be crazy busy we want to share with you the 10 best apps for business to improve productivity. These apps will help you manage and improve time management, social media, finance and staff management.  

 

Asana

Time/Project Management

Asana is a wonderful tool that allows for teams to effectively allocate tasks, create to-do’s, reminders, due dates, messenger and extra notes to complete tasks in record time. This app allows teams and manger to monitor progress of major goals broken down into achievable tasks on the go to ensure completion.

 

Plann

Social Media Management

Plann is perfect for Small Businesses, allowing them to pre-design, plan, visualise and schedule social media posts for Instagram which ensure that posts and branding are kept consistent. Plann’s format allows for drag and drop, compose captions, schedule release and save hashtags allowing entrepreneurs to design content weeks in advance and tweak until perfect.

 

QuickBooks

Finance and accounts management

QuickBooks is the number one go to accounting app for Small Businesses as it welcomes the opportunity of running your business accounts from anywhere. QuickBooks allows for easy access to your businesses profit and loss statements, expenses, invoices and account balances. This app allows for Small Business owners to have more control over their accounts but with the freedom of anytime, anywhere.

 

Dropbox

Store and share files

Dropbox is the best program that allows for files to be stored and shared online from any technology platform to numerous individuals allowing for easy access, multiple users and a decreased risk of losing work.

 

StockSnap_RPMT6Y4X8U.jpg

 

MailChimp

Email Marketing

MailChimp is changing the way of email marketing as it allows for mass marketing, tracking of subscribers and campaigns and creates reports to see the progress of your marketing. This mass email marketing tools allows emails to be personalised and sent to all your customers allowing you to stay front of mind with a positive brand image.

 

Canva

Graphic design and Photo Editing

Canva is one of the best, easy to use graphic design tools which allows for small businesses to create beautiful professional designs with minimal to no cost. With over a million layouts, stock photos and illustrations available to choose from, it has become an easy task to design a professional, flawless and memorable design for your business.

 

Deputy

Staff Management

Deputy is the new simplified staff management app that allows you to manage all your staff and timetables easily from anywhere. This application has become the solution for employee scheduling, time and attendance, team communication, tasks lists and payroll. With these business aspects, so readily available it has made paying staff, covering and swapping shifts and organising team discussions easy.

 

Evernote

Idea Management

Evernote is the go to application to organise and manage your professional and private projects that you are juggling. This app allows you to take notes, create to-do lists and save any great websites and then have them available for access over multiple devices.

 

Meeting Pad

Meeting Management

Meeting Pad will soon become your new best friend as it is specifically designed to make your business meetings easier with meeting lists, actions, attendees, minutes, camera and recorder. All these aspects that are available ensure that your meetings run effectively and efficiently and all information and topics of conversation are recorded.

 

LinkedIn

Social Networking

LinkedIn is the new social media of choice for professionals as it allows for individuals to upload their training and credentials and connect with other like minded individuals to increase social networking and business connections. This network allows for job seeking, industry updates, news and allows you to build on your professional brand.

 

When used properly these apps have been found to be the most productive and useful apps for small business owners. These applications allow you to run your business mainly stress-free and save time where possible.

How to make your 8-hour day 100% productive

 

Many have written about time management, how to save time, make time and use time, but have you ever actually improved your time management after reading these pieces? After watching Laura Vanderkam’s Ted Talk on time management it is clear that time cannot be manipulated or tempted. But it can be prioritised.

Good time Management can be one of the most difficult things for an entrepreneur to grasp. With so many things to do, so many things to think about and so much happening at once, time management becomes essential.  So, here’s our basic guide to getting your time management right, so your business performs better and you get your sanity back!

 

If it matters, put it on the list. If it doesn’t matter, scratch it.

Laura talked about the importance of making time your own. You own your day and you must spend it the way you see fit. If it is a beautiful day, slip in a beach walk, don’t put off enjoying your life to tick off all your tasks on your list. Time is highly elastic and will stretch to fit in everything you want to achieve in your day if you prioritise.

 

If it’s an automatic task, scratch it.

Your to-do list should never include tasks that you would complete whether they are on the list or not. While you are at it, all the tasks that you are always putting off and know are never going to complete, scratch them off too. Your to-do list should be ruthless, and only include tasks that are essential and have a set deadline.

 

If you don’t get around to it, move it.

A to-do-list needs to be a moving beast. You need to be able to reflect at the end of the day and prepare the list for tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to shift things, but only do it when you have just cause – if you do it out of laziness nothing will ever work.

 

Give it a big tick.

Half of the difficulty when it comes to time management is we try to do too much and end up not doing anything at all. This in turn means we never feel a sense of satisfaction and completion. The first thing they teach you at boarding school is to get up and make your bed in the morning. Why? It means you start the day with accomplishment – and it makes it easier to keep on going.

 

Be ruthless with your time, get all the boring tasks that are not on your to-do list done first so that they are out of the way. Then, hit your to-do list in a time or importance prioritised order and slowly tick one job off after the other. Make sure your tasks are achievable, if they are too big, break them down into manageable steps, which is especially important when doing project work.  

So with a few simple and achievable changes to your time management, getting more out of your eight hours becomes realistic.

 

“We don’t build the lives we want by saving time, we build the lives we want and then time saves itself”- Laura Vanderkam

There are 168 hours in your week, subtract 40 hours for work, then subtract 56 hours for sleeping, that leaves you with 72 hours to spend your time how you want. - Laura Vanderkam

 

Do better CEO’s take a personal approach to their business’ success?

Last week, CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer announced something major on her personal Tumblr blog. This year she won’t be accepting her annual bonus or equity stock. Instead, she’ll be redistributing both work perks to her employees. Why? Because when Yahoo faced a major security breach in 2014 they didn’t disclose this to the public until 2016 and she feels her management team – under her guidance – didn’t respond quickly enough, therefore seeing herself as undeserving of the bonus.

The security breach has already cost Yahoo $350 million and there are over 40 pending lawsuits against the company so as a business, it has copped punishment. But the unique thing about Marissa’s approach is she is making it personal. She is accepting personal responsibility for what happened under her leadership. So does this approach, the personal, connected approach to leadership make a business better?

Traditionally, leadership positions like CEO roles and top level management have had a stereotype of hard-nosed, non-emotional, impersonal personality characteristics. For a long time, they were seen to drive the good cars, have a closed office door and interact only with those they deem as their peers. Most people reading this would recognize this from their early career days, we’re sure! This leadership style generates a corporate culture with a strong hierarchy and a divide. Employees don’t have any buy-in into the greater purpose or vision for the business and their work becomes uninspired. This can’t possibly cultivate any initiative amongst a team?

So does a more involved, relatable, personal approach improve performance? There’s not a lot of research to back this up. Completely conversely, a study from 2010-2016 found that CEOs of tech companies actually perform better when they have narcissistic personalities than those companies led by less-dominant, less-entitled CEOs.

However, another study of 36 companies across a range of industries found that higher-ambition CEOs assume personal responsibility when things are bad and give collective credit when they are good. These companies also had exceptional employee satisfaction and great individual leadership.

Then another study identified that humility is a major factor when creating a great culture with higher performance compared to other businesses in the same industry. Essentially, the more humble the CEO, the more engaged, hard-working, collaborative and committed the employees from top-level, mid-level managers to general staff.

While little empirical evidence can tell us about the direct correlation between bottom line performance and a more personal approach to leadership, there is a strong indication that having a more honest, humble, personal leadership style does build better businesses.

 

So how can you change your focus and try an approach like this?

 

Care about employee engagement

Engaged employees actually want to work towards the company’s goals and contribute to the vision. To create fantastic employee engagement, start by knowing your company values and by acting them out yourself. If you work with these values, the team will follow. Listen to your employees, ask for feedback on decisions, processes and your performance as an employer. Make the changes that matter most and they’ll respond to your commitment to making them happy by, in turn, working towards the company goals. 

 

Celebrate the wins – with the team

Make business wins a celebration of the team. If you won a major project, celebrate with everyone, not just those involved. If you have record product sales across a period, celebrate with the whole team including your manufacturing team because every contribution counts. By rewarding everyone with positivity, it inspires them to take ownership of their work – to perform better because they know it matters.

 

Find the time to get to know your employees

Don’t have a closed door approach to your staff. Get to know them on an individual level. Understand what their role is, what their strengths are and conversely, know their weaknesses. You’ll make better business decisions if you know your team and what makes them tick.

 

Don’t be afraid of trying new things and moving out of your comfort zone. Our leadership coaching and mentoring services could help you if you’d like guidance, because by making a few small changes, you can improve performance hugely. 

 

Extreme Succession Planning: The Green Box Exercise

When I was a Chair in The Executive Connection, I heard a story about a former TEC member.  A very successful business owner and family man, he was at the peak of his life and success.  A fitness fanatic and keen sportsman, his family were growing up healthy, happy and full of love, his business kept growing and his community activities were starting to bear fruit.  As an all-round success and a wonderful man, it was a shock when he suddenly passed away. 

As it happened, he had left a sealed envelope with his best friend, marked “To be opened in the event of my death.”  It was quite slim and contained just one sheet of paper with the words “Look in the green box at the left of the top shelf of my wardrobe.”  When opened, this box proved that the wonderful planning and foresight that had served him so well in life, was now to serve his family equally well after his life. 

This is the Green Box Exercise.

Many people feel that if they have a current will completed, their estate plan is organized. While having a current will completed is crucial, there are more important steps that every business owner should take.

The idea is that you have one place that all the information on the following check list is stored. It may be a safety deposit box, or a locked cabinet in your home. The Green Box is just a metaphor to define a storage place that is safe and that your loved ones and/or key advisors have access to.

Part of the intent of this exercise is to provide direction to your executors on how you would want your affairs, specifically your business affairs, handled in your own words. Yes, the will does provide the legal wording, but a letter in your own words to explain ‘the why’ behind what you are doing will go a long way to helping communicate your key decisions more effectively.

If you are a business owner, you need to make plans for your business as well. Some of the questions that people face in the event of a tragic emergency include: Who is left in charge tomorrow? What will your banker do? Who has the authority to make the necessary decisions tomorrow to make sure your business does not suffer?

These are big decisions. Having a business emergency plan process in place and documented will go a long way to assisting your company and your executors. This is why we feel the green box exercise is something every business owner should do. Find a safe place, and store all of the following information and documents in it. It will save your loved ones confusion and a lack of guidance that they would otherwise be faced with. 

THE GREEN BOX CONTENTS

  • Letter to your spouse
  • Letter to each child
  • List of 5 most important employees in the company & their Strengths/weaknesses
  • Off balance sheet deals
  • Organizational Chart
  • List of personal and business people that should be contacted in the event of passing
  • Deals in process and evaluation of them
  • Strategy that I am thinking about but haven’t told anybody about
  • List of Trusted Advisors and their roles (may or may not be currently working with YOUR company) such as Lawyer, Accountant, etc.
  • Instructions not addressed in Will
  • Copies of POA documents
  • Copy of Passport, Birth Certificate
  • Copy of all credit cards
  • Copy of physical property titles
  • Personal stock portfolio information
  • Details of Life insurance- personal and company owned
  • Details of all other insurance
  • Copies of personal property valuations (Jewelry, guns, collectables, etc)
  • Computer passwords
  • Personal financial statement
  • Extra passport photos
  • Medical/Dental charts
  • Funeral/Burial instructions
  • Mementos and to whom you’d like them given
  • Whatever else is important to your family or your business

Make the most of the Silly Season - Christmas marketing made simple!

I can’t believe it, Christmas is just around the corner. We’re inside the three month mark and even though David Jones has had decorations out for over two months, I just can’t quite believe we’re here already. 

For some businesses, mainly retail, Christmas means busy busy busy. For others, like professional services, it means it’s time for a bit of a slow break. Which category do you fall into? Guess what? I’m not really fussed - because there’s huge benefits to doing Christmas Marketing properly for any business! 

Proper Christmas Marketing is planned well in advance and is themed. What it is not, is a rushed emailer sent out at 4pm on Christmas Eve. 

If you’re a business who is busy, it’s so beneficial to get ahead and set up your Christmas Marketing early because it means it all happens seamlessly while you get busy. And, if you do the right things, it can also increase your Christmas Sales. 

If you’re a business who is quiet, it’s beneficial to do Christmas Marketing because it gives you a point of non-sales driven contact. A chance to reconnect and do engage clients in a positive way outside of business transactions. 

So regardless of which business you fall under, here’s what should be on your radar! 

Decide your Christmas Theme

This is the image, the sentiment, the greeting that you want to use consistently across all marketing. Are you using a Santa Hat and Merry Christmas? Are you using a branded present icon and Happy Holidays? This is the first step, because once you’ve decided this, the rest is easy! 

Custom Christmas Cards

If you don’t have a big Christmas Card list, buying a few stylish ones from the store is perfect. If it’s any more than 50, custom Christmas Cards are the way to go. These need to be ordered by the end of October because printers are busy and they still need to be written and addresses! So start planning the design and getting quotes in October. I recommend sending Christmas Cards to all clients, referrers, business supporters, local businesses around yours and anyone else you feel is of significance. 

Christmas Gifts

Clients gifts are typically a tricky area. How much do you spend per client? I have a rule of thumb, 5% of the total that every client has spent. It’s best to organise your clients gifts at the beginning of November (or at least plan them!) so they can be delivered with a Christmas card in the second week of December. 

Christmas Event

Christmas events like a VIP shopping night, a meet and greet, Christmas drinks or a family day are a great way to bring in last minute sales or engage with your clients. Plan any transaction based events for late November so potential shoppers can get in early and if you’re planning on a casual event, early December is fine. Just be wary of school holidays and end of year school events. make sure you plan for it at the end of October and get invitations out more than three weeks in advance - you want to get in early as there’s lots on in the Christmas lead up! 

Christmas Footer

Set up your Christmas email footer for all staff emails. This should be easy as you’ve already decided on the theme! A jpg works well and can easily be copied and pasted into emails. It’s appropriate to put it up anytime after 1 December. Make sure you include you office closing hours somewhere, too. This positions your brand nicely. 

Christmas Emailer

Regardless of whether people have received a personalised Christmas card, it’s important to reach out to your entire network. This gives you a chance to wish them well, celebrate and advertise the successes throughout the year, remind them of any office opening and closing dates and reestablish connection - which is highly valuable if you haven’t in some time. Send it two days before your office closes down for the year so any replies can be responded to. 

Christmas Social Media Posts

Christmas gives us a chance to be creative, fun and festive with our social media posts. Take your Christmas theme and design a template in Canva then fill it with fun content. Some great ideas are to run a 12 days of Christmas promotion that could give people a discount or special offer for purchases on that day, celebrate a client each day or share valuable Christmas ‘to-dos’. Don’t forget to schedule a Merry Christmas message nice and early on Christmas Day too. 

Remember, if you get in now and plan ahead things will run smoothly and you'll make the most of the opportunities ahead! 

Improve your sales by changing your performance metrics

What metrics do you use to measure your business performance? If you’re like us, you’ll say something like sales, profit, free cash flow, customer numbers, deal values and so forth. These are traditional measures of success and ones that we’ve been taught to work to all our life. But what if we’re missing the one metric that could actually make the biggest impact to our bottom line? 

Walt Disney famously said, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” How do you do something well? By making the customer happy. This is the metric we've been forgetting about all along. 

Yes, the bottom line of every business is directly impacted by customer happiness - so why in the world don’t we actually think about this more? Perhaps because we don’t think it makes that much of an impact. Well, we’re all wrong there. Which is exactly what Justin Dry and Andre Eikmeier thought when they decided to shake things up at VinoMofo, the company they co-founded. 

Dry and Eikmeier told StartUpSmart.com.au that that their previous metrics were putting the focus on the wrong type of behaviour and this wasn’t consistent with their company culture or values, so they ran a little experiment. Splitting their team into two halves, one half continued with traditional metrics and the other half started using happiness as a metric. 

The results? “Absolutely Insane.” 

The happiness-focussed team achieved around 30% better results and sales than the traditional metric focussed team. Pretty astounding after a few short months. But it's important to note that the benefit to the bottom dollar goes well beyond making one sale through making someone happy in the moment. 

Happy customers can generally be considered loyal customers and on average, a loyal customer is worth around ten times as much as their first purchase value. So when you secure a customer and you keep them happy, you can expect the investment to pay off in the long run. 

Furthermore, it is 6 to 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one. So you’re essentially saving money and making money by simply investing in customer loyalty. 

So how can we take a leaf out of VinoMofo’s book and change our number driven culture to one that actually utilises the power of happiness? 

It's quite a significant culture shift for most businesses. However, there are some steps that every business can take to slowly integrate measuring customer happiness into our culture and metrics.  

 

1. Baseline Test - How happy are our customers? 

Do you ask for feedback after a transaction? Not a lot of businesses do. It’s quite an easy process and as long as everyone commits to the implementation process, it works well. So start by creating a form (online on your website or in print) and send it to your customers (via email for online surveys and via post for print surveys). If you pay for a CRM, this can usually be automated however if you don’t, ensure a staff member is responsible for finalising deals or orders and chasing up the feedback. If you’re stuck for what to ask, click here for some ideas. 

 

2. Assess the Results - What areas can we work on? 

Start to look at the results and if you need some analysis help, turn the qualitative data into quantitative data by giving answers scores from 1 to 10 based on keywords and sentiment. When you see the trends, whatever they are, take note of them and start to think of how you can maintain the already positive and how you can improve on the negative. 

 

3. Create innovative and productive ways to improve those results. 

It takes a few small changes by the work team to improve a customer experience. Checking off these positive experiences is a great place to start. 

  • Easy to navigate and use website 
  • Fast communication times 
  • Easy access support channels 
  • Phone response when required 
  • Problem resolution and solution time 
  • Delivering work within deadlines
  • Delivering work promised 
  • Additional or complimentary services 
  • Positive customer interaction (happy calls, enthusiasm, real conversation) 
  • Personal approach to customer relationship management 
  • And with some tailored solutions to the trends you saw based on your unique feedback, the improvements will come naturally. 

The most important thing to remember is that every business should constantly be collecting feedback from clients. Client feedback is all we have to guide us with our own business improvement. So keep it running smoothly and revisit it every three months - happy clients and a better bottom line will be knocking at your door!

Five Steps to Social Media Optimisation

Over the last week, about three companies that I subscribe to have sent emails about Social Media Optimisation. They position it as something that business owners and leaders should be almost afraid of - it’s big, scary and mighty complex. But is it really? No. 

Social Media Optimisation has a few different perceived meanings. But the way we see it, it means, ‘using a range of social media platforms in the most effective, integrated way to achieve a business goal or objective.’

The goal could be to create awareness, direct more traffic to the website, sell a product or create leads - but it all works in the same way. So how can business leaders and entrepreneurs use achieve social media optimisation simply? Follow our guide and you’ll find it easy! 

 

Step One: Select your social media platforms wisely

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Vine, Youtube, Snapchat, Flickr, Instagram, Foursquare, Goodreads, LinkedIn and the list goes on! Selecting your social media sites is simple - work out where your ideal clients are hanging out online and make those your priority. If you’re not sure what they use, the information is pretty widely available. This great article from Sprout Social can help. 

 

Step Two: Brand yourself consistently

Make your handle or username the same across all platforms. Make your social logo the same across all platforms. For example, Langano Business Strategists use “Langano Business Strategists” for all of our social media and we only have our icon as the image, not the full logo. Make sure that your messaging is consistent across the platforms so if you want to position yourself as an industry thought leader, make sure your messages reflect this. If you want to position yourself as a fun, exciting brand, change your tone to reflect this. Image styling is also important and we’ll cover that in detail one day soon, but for now just make sure that you use something like www.canva.com to overlay your logo in the corner of images. 

 

Step Three: Make yourself searchable

Different platforms use different things to make themselves searchable on social media. Hashtags, key words and categories. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to use these. Think about your elevator pitch - what are the key words throughout it? Those words plus perhaps one location relevant word are what you should be using in hashtags and keywords. For example, ours at Langano Business Strategists would be #financialmanagement #leadership #business #strategy #businessgrowth #entrepreneurs #brisbane 

 

Step Four: Don’t settle for OK content, make it great instead

When you think about what you want to share publicly, make that content great. Make it empowering, inspiring, educational, informative and motivating. A way to measure a content idea is to ask yourself, “will the reader or viewer feel something when they look at this?” if you can create an emotive connection, it will be more powerful than anything else you could post. 

 

Step Five: Manage it well

Whoever is in charge of social media optimisation, be it yourself or someone else, can do a few things to make it a much simpler process. Start by allocating time each week to social media. This means it’s done once a week and is automated throughout the rest of the week. Tools like Hootsuite and Latergram can make scheduling your posts across all platforms very streamlined. It also pulls in analytics from each platform and presents them very nicely for you so measuring progress is a breeze. 

 

So with five simple and easy to do steps, social media optimisation is very achievable and something every business that wants to use social media should do!

How entrepreneurs can use government funding and support to boost your business

There’s never any harm in looking at alternative funding options to make some room in your cashflow, grow your business and invest in the areas that can make a difference. Even entrepreneurs who are doing well financially can benefit from business support programs through collaboration, innovation and alternative expertise. 

The recent volatile history of the Queensland government has led most of us away from looking to government resources when it comes to small business. However, there are a few programs and initiatives that you should know about. Here’s four programs available right now that could help you to take the next step in your business. 

 

Industry Accelerators Program

This offers programs to develop and market test new products and services that can increase productivity and global investment in Queensland. This program helps entrepreneurs to secure investment and obtain new customers. 

 

Ignite Ideas Fund

This fund supports the development of new or improved products or processes or services to secure investment, launch global markets and grow business. Funding of up to $250,000 per project is available to businesses conducting activities that prove your idea will work or to assist with identifying a market or investor for your product, process or service. 

  • Eligibility: Must meet criteria
  • Funding: $250,000 per project
  • Applications: Applicants can apply for round two on 12 September
  • Click here to learn more.

 

Global Partnership Awards

Supports collaboration between Queensland businesses and international innovators by offering entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn directly from overseas successes. By establishing strategic medium-long term relationships with global research and innovation organisations, Queensland businesses can be supported and guided in growing and expanding. 

Click here to learn more.

 

Commercialisation Partnership

This program places Queensland innovators in Chinese incubators to collaborate with global expertise, access top facilities and accelerate commercial outcomes. Placements run for 75 to 90 days. 

  • Eligibility: Queensland based businesses with less than 200 employees must meet additional criteria
  • Funding: $480,000 over three years or until program funding is exhausted
  • Applications: Applications open October 2016
  • Click here to learn more. 

 

DID YOU KNOW? One of the services Langano offers is assistance in writing tenders, proposals and applications so if you have questions about how to best position your business in an applications, get in touch. 

Returning from holidays? Here's what every business leader needs to do...

For every leader, there is a time away – usually a holiday, or perhaps a long sales trip.  This is also a leadership opportunity to make a good return to work, an influential return to work.

When you are away, the team hasn’t felt your influence for a while, and you have had the chance to get away from the daily whirl of activity – meetings, emails, texts, reports.  This gives you the chance to work on your business rather than in your business.  

Being away, your team grow used to not hearing or seeing you.  Your team start to focus on other drivers.  Now that you have returned, they can be more easily influenced.  They want to hear from you and this makes your first day back particularly powerful.

How do you best harness this power?  Surely not by working through the accumulated letters, emails, reports and papers – this just hides you away and squanders a valuable leadership opportunity.

Instead, as you return to work, focus on the really critical values and tasks that your whole organisation needs to align with.  Demonstrated values reflect how we behave, how we treat each other, our clients our stakeholders.  This is the opportunity to reinforce the organisation’s values, at the individual, team and organisational level.  

Reflect on recent performance, opportunities and threats.  Consider our strengths and weaknesses.  What are the top three tasks we need to undertake, not just to deal with today’s challenges but to be ready for tomorrow’s opportunities.  Think about success and what it looks like.   Paint a picture so that each and every team member knows what they have to do to achieve success.

Once you have these thoughts clearly in your mind, write them down.  Make the words short, simple and clear. Practice saying them out loud, turning them into your mantra.  Remember that for every seven times you say something, there is a chance your team members will hear you once.

Build a simple communications strategy around your chosen messages:

What will you say to your leadership team?  What do you want them to say?    What will you say to the organisation in your next leader’s message?  How is this communicated with clients?

As you now run through the backlog of work, consider each item in light of your message to the organisation.  Think about what is important and what is not.  Be comfortable that you are running the job and the job is not running you.

Want to improve your earnings by 20%? It's easier than you think...

Over the last two decades, our dependence on technology has increased. When we use technology, the mathematical chance of error is decreased, efficiency is maximised and we still have the power of being in control. The downside, is that for many people this has lead to the demise of our trust in the ability of others. 

We’re much more likely to turn on spell check than turn to a colleague and ask for proof reading prior to sending an email. We’re much more comfortable typing a question into Google than we are turning around and asking someone that question in person. We’re afraid of human error and losing control. But in today’s business world, we should be looking for harmony between technology and people through delegation and collaboration, not deterring from it. Why? Because the impact this has on our bottom line is a lot larger than we realise.

Thomas N. Hubbard recently wrote a Harvard Business Review blog about a study he co-authored with Luis Garicano that looked at the real, economic affects of effective delegation in the workplace. Using thousands of law firms across the United States, they found that when senior lawyers handed work down to their associates, median earnings increased by 20-50% more.

When the senior partners stopped focussing on the mundane, routine issues and handed this work on to associates, they could focus on larger, more complex cases and were able to serve more clients. This productivity boost through investing the senior experience into more valuable areas of the business drove these improvements to the bottom line. 

Forbes ran an interesting piece in 2012 quoting a London Business School Professor who said only 30% of managers believed they were good delegators and of this 30%, only 1 in 3 of their subordinates actually confirmed that they were good at delegating. 

That suggests an enormous number of business leaders are investing their time and effort into the wrong areas of their business. So how can we change the way we think about delegation, how can we trust our employees and utilise the good money we pay for them to improve our overall position? 

 

1. Make technology a team effort

Those pieces of technology I spoke about earlier on are incredibly valuable, but they don’t need to completely replace other people - other people can simply use them too. If you give a team the tools you use and create a seamless, error-reducing process there is no reason they can’t perform to the same standard that you do.

2. Be clear, concise but give them freedom to operate

I was once told that if you allow employees to succeed, they will thrive in their roles. Instruct the important things but allow them to create their own systems and styles. Give them operational freedom (within your business values) and they’ll take ownership for the work they do. It won’t be ‘something the boss gave them to do’ it will instead be ‘something they want to succeed at.’

3. Teach, don’t tell

The most valuable thing you can do is pass on your knowledge to free up your own time. Don’t tell an employee what to do, teach them how. This way, you have confidence when you delegate that they have the skills to perform well. 

4. It comes down to culture

If you create a positive delegation experience for employees, it creates a collaborative culture where delegation doesn’t become an excess workload thing, but instead an empowerment thing. Foster a culture this happens and there’s nothing stopping your business from improving. 

 

Do you have questions about delegation and creating a positive delegation experience in your business? Click here to send us a message and we’ll do our best to get back to you with an answer.