December 2014 - Small business consultant, Kara Lambert is insightful and expert.

Monthly Archives: December 2014

2 Business performance review

Last week I mentioned that planning for the coming year should include a review of the year just passed. I thought, since this will be my last post of 2014, that I would honour it with its own post.

Review is a much maligned, yet valid, part of project management and it is at the centre of quality assurance – both integral parts of my knowledge. I’m not sure just why people are so reluctant to look to the past when planning for the future.

As I look back on 2014, I realise that there was one thing which stood out above all. It was carrying out my application for Telstra Businesswoman of the Year. So I wasn’t successful, but the application process included a very specific review element. Undertaking the review was a very revealing and raw process. It made me confront a lot of beliefs I had about myself, my abilities, and my achievements. What came from it was an amazing sense of achievement, pride, and ability. It was this process that actually kicked me from the planning stages of Write to Right to the action phase.

Business performance review - write to right

So, once again, I ask why are people so reluctant to conduct a review and use it to empower actions into the future? Are they so focused on what will be or what they want to be that reviewing seems obsolete? Do they believe that reviewing is ‘living in the past’ and as such dragging them back and preventing progress? Is it a lack of resources (expertise, time, money)? Is it that they have no goals and therefore believe they have nothing to review?

So back to the award process and why it was so empowering. While I had to provide details of my financials over the previous three years, it was the questions that focused on the outcomes of my actions which really hit home.

Outline your most memorable business achievement and what were the significant learnings.

What have been some of the most difficult business challenges you have had to face and how have you overcome them to achieve success.

What do you believe have been the driving factors for your success and why?

Please provide details of the involvement and contribution you have made to your industry i.e. board positions you have held, currently hold or actively seeking.

Outstanding leaders create a positive environment for learning. How have you invested time, money and energy in developing others to build your business capability for future success?

Please tell us about your most successful business relationship. What made (or makes) it successful?

Now, look at your finances over the past 6 months, year, and two years. Are you where you expected to be? Did you achieve financial milestones? What did you do to achieve them that worked well? Is there anything you could have done differently/better? Anything you shouldn’t have done at all? When I asked myself these questions it prompted me to be more active in following up on leads. As a result, I also introduced a new accounting system, with improved billing and credit card facilities.

I encourage you to consider what I taught you about goal setting and watch the following TED talk. When you have finished, go and answer the questions that were posed to me in the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year Awards. Don’t spend too much time; the longest response I was allowed was 400 words. (It made me be targeted in my answers and I think this also played a part in its influence)

12 Planning for 2015

Goals, missions, visions. All worthwhile documents (or boards, let’s not restrict ourselves), however missions and visions are all just words without actionsTweet this Ironic, considering last week’s post was just on that topic.

I am yet to meet a business owner who does not want to grow in one way or another. Some may want financial growth, others might want to foster a better balance with their family life. There are no right or wrong answers, this is about what is right for you, your circle, your business.

I decided to make 2014 my year. It was about making myself and my needs a priority. Now 2014 is coming to a close, I am looking to 2015 and what I wish to achieve. I am looking to business growth and new opportunities, and so I need to plan.

What I thought I would do is to share some of the tools I have used, or heard about, in 2014. I have found that I have grown to know myself again, like when I was a child with that self-assured wonder. This hasn’t been without challenge, I have had to challenge my outdated beliefs, the outdated beliefs of others, and I admit to having moved on from people. But this is growth, and I am not upset as it is what I wanted for me in 2014.

2015 Leonie Dawson planning workbookSo what got the ball rolling for me in 2013, heading into 2014? After reading “Get Rich Lucky Bitch” by Denise Duffield-Thomas I looked for her videos and came across Leonie Dawson. If you haven’t heard of Leonie, she is a former Australian Commonwealth Public Servant, who left her job to follow her heart (a woman after my own heart). After years of empowering women spiritually, she moved into empowering business women (in her own ‘hippy-dippy’ style). I used the 2014 workbooks to show myself just how far I had come and to set in place plans to start Write to Right. I found the workbooks cathartic, allowing me to clear space to move forward with my plans for 2014. Leonie has released her 2015 workbooks, they are available for digital download or in a very funky spiral-bound hard copy. You can purchase, and have them shipped, directly from Leonie. (affiliate link)

Productivity is never an accident Write to RightThe following tool I have mentioned previously, without it I couldn’t have maintained my social media presence while overseas for a month. Coming into the holiday period I would suggest grabbing this post planning calendar. I previously sat down with my phone calendar, open laptop and a hope that I didn’t duplicate any posts. The following calendar has a great list of helpful dates, to prompt posts, and a generous format for note taking. In 2014, I have found planning and scheduling ahead a great way to free up more time for myself and my family. Kellie has informed me that there will be a 2015 version of the calendar released next week, so if you can wait a few days sign up for her newsletter to be notified of its release. In the meantime, you can download the current version for planning out the rest of your December. (affiliate link)

2015 Creative Biz School Planner
Are you a list maker? I admit to being an intermittent, in my head, kind of list maker. If you are into lists and tight goal tracking then the following bundle from Darla at the Creative Biz School is for you. This year I have gotten very serious about tracking finances (thanks DDT) and this package from Darla certainly has making you financially accountable down pat! So, if your goal for 2015 is to be more serious about achieving your financial goals, then check out this package from Darla.


Defined Image balance every outfitNow, back up at the start I said that 2014 was about me, so one of the big things I did was changed how I felt about me and instrumental in that was changing how I dressed. I don’t know about you, but the way I dress certainly impacts how I feel (compare corporate suits to tracky dacks). Since I have used the hints I have gained from the Make it Look Easy ladies I have greater confidence in what I wear, fewer “I have nothing to wear” moments, been more adventurous in what I wear, and (shock horror) I have saved money!!!! By teaching me what colours look best together and with my colouring, I have gained a whole new perspective on my wardrobe. So, thanks to Nat & Tatum for being a big part of my transformation. If you are looking to gain more confidence in what you wear, be warned it snowballs, then grab the e-book which started the ball rolling for me.

So I hear that you are enjoying the videos I have been sharing. The following is one that my kids first watched at school. Kid President is such an amazing young man, with such an amazing story. The following video is a great motivator and inspiration, and I hope it makes you think about your plans for 2015. Before you run head long into 2015, don’t forget to review and celebrate your achievements in 2014, you (and they) deserve it.

4 Getting closer to meeting your customer needs

Focus on the customer - Write to Right


Where do your mission and visions cross? Are there any common words or themes? Where does you ideal customer meet with your mission? With your vision? When do you meet the customer needs? If you are unsure of any of these things, head back over to the previous posts and read more about how to get to this point, then come on back and continue on.

List the adjectives, or find relevant adjectives, to describe the intersections. These are the words you use to drive your interactions. There’s a word of warning, they must be for your client. If you start writing about the business it becomes about you. You don’t need to sell to, or convince, you. Also, unless your ideal client is a competitor, don’t write about your industry either. Your customer doesn’t want to know why your industry does xyz, they have a need and want you to meet it. Tweet this  It’s why they are at your website/Facebook/Google+.

Go back and look at the list and where it meets your ideal client. What words help to meet their needs? What benefits (don’t confuse these with features) are they looking for? Remember you wrote out their preferences, look to these for inspiration on how they want to be sold to and what needs you need to meet. Now, what are the benefits of your product or service and how do you meet your idea customer’s needs? This is the ‘what’s in it for me’ that your customer wants answered and you need to explain. Watch the following video, it gives a great (and quick) run down on the difference between a feature and a benefit; plus there’s a little extra business boost to get you ahead of the game.

Now let’s step it up a notch and investigate how it will make your customer feel. What will they experience from the product? Here’s a word of warning, quality is on everyone’s list – meaning that it can also be on yours, but it can’t be alone. The following video is a brief overview on when businesses get this next step right. I can vouch for the Disney experience and the desire to be a repeat customer (yes, I am considering making the long-haul flight back to the US to do it). Watch the video and think about how you want your customer to feel when they use your product/service, deal with your business, and see your marketing.

I’ve learned that people  will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

So now you have the adjectives to help describe your product or service and you have the benefits you need to include when you write those descriptions. But which tone do you use?

Finding your voice

Look at your adjectives, benefits, and your ideal customer – what language suits these best? Will they appreciate slang, a conversational tone, factual, or formal speech?

I would suggest that if your business has more than one person writing for it that you establish a style guide. While I use the Commonwealth Style Manual for proofreading, while in the Commonwealth Government I also worked with a departmental style guide. This guide outlines various things, such as:

– how the business name is written (capitalisation, abbreviation)
– use of acronyms
– how owners are referred to
– tense
– tone
– how customers are referred to, and
– font style, size, & colour.

This certainly helped when writing for different media and clients. There were guides for press releases, ministerials, client letters, and an overarching guide. Unless you are a business with a few hundred staff who communicate across many media and stakeholders, you are unlikely to need this many guides. However, a document that outlines your mission, vision, ideal client, benefits, key adjectives, and preferred tone is a great start. From here it can evolve to including which messages are distributed over particular media. You can even detail how minutes will be taken and distributed.

Style guides are beneficial for copywriters and copy editors. It allows us an insight into the back end of your business and means that we can easily support you and help you to achieve your outcomes. It also saves lengthy discussions when engaging us to undertake work for your business: saving you time and money.