If you love Offspring, creativity and entrepreneurship…

clarebowditch15f

I’m aware that I’m possibly the only woman in Australia who doesn’t watch Offspring. When I browse my social media stream while the show is on, I can confirm this to be true. Everyone in the world seems to be getting their Nina Proudman fix.

But that’s ok. There is still time. I can get the DVD. I’m on to it.

So why am I talking about Offspring? Well, one of the show’s characters has been played by muso Clare Bowditch, who is not only a singer and actress. She has also parlayed her talents into speaking about creativity in business. And Clare is just one of the many wonderful speakers at Small Business Festival Victoria.

I wanted to highlight this awesome festival because:
(a) I think it’s fantastic that the State Government in Victoria is behind this event
(b) I want to highlight that the short-sighted New South Wales government has canned its equivalent event, which used to be called Small Business September. The NSW state government scrapped several significant small business programs in 2012 including Small Business September, MicroBiz Week, the Young Entrepreneurs program and the Women in Business mentoring program.… Read more ...

How to find a consultant who will help transform your business

vk feature

You’ve been there. Your business is growing and you just can’t do everything. It’s time to call in the experts – consultants who can help take you to the next stage of your business.

This is be hard for control freaks. But if you want your business to grow it’s important to accept that there are only 24 hours in a day and you can’t actually be an expert in SEO, sales, operations, admin, customer service, accounting, strategy and human resources. Well, you can try – but you’ll go crazy!

Handing over the reins to consultants can be both liberating and filled with danger. Some consultants can truly transform your business. Yet some consultants can charge you a tonne of money but you end up with little to show for it.

So how do you determine of a consultant is right for you?

Well, if I had a magic formula that could give us all the answer for this, I would already be retired and sipping pina coladas on a tropical island.

Nevertheless, over the years, I’ve learnt a few things – often, the hard way.… Read more ...

The tables are turned: What happens when a former Olympian interviews me

Toby Jenkins

As a journalist, I’m always the ones asking the questions. So it’s quite a change when the tables are turned. Recently, Toby Jenkins from Bluewire Media interviewed me for the podcast he co-hosts with Adam Franklin, “Web Marketing That Works”.

Toby competed in water polo in the 2004 Olympics. While he used to dominate in the pool (that’s him in the picture at the Olympics against Spain), he is now (along with Adam) rocking the world of business with Bluewire Media.

You can find the Bluewire Media podcast here:
http://www.bluewiremedia.com.au/blog/2014/06/wmtw-26-valerie-khoo
Adam and Toby are also former students of the Australian Writers’ Centre. I’ve been thrilled to watch them co-write and release their awesome book “Web Marketing That Works” (published through Wiley).

This book is packed with practical advice. As regular readers will know, I’m a big fan of using the web to connect with my community. If you’re interested in the world of web marketing for your business, this is a wonderful guide on what you need to know.

It’s an honest account of what it takes to succeed in web marketing.… Read more ...

What’s wrong with down-playing your success?

Tall poppy

Yesterday, I was sitting at Sydney Airport, about to catch a plane to Brisbane. A well dressed man and woman sat down opposite me. Dressed in business attire, they looked like colleagues. It was 6pm, at the tail end of the day.

The woman said: “Well it’s been a successful few days Harry.”
The man replied: “Thank you for your involvement. I appreciate it.”
The woman (brushing aside his comment) said: “Oh I felt like a dead weight most of the time.”

I heard this and thought: “WTF?”

Admittedly, I have no idea about the back story on this. I don’t know how much the woman contributed to the “successful few days”. But I did know that the man thanked her for her involvement. And rather than say “You’re welcome” or take it as a compliment, she downplayed her contribution.

I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her.

But it’s a reaction that I see among many people …

“Oh what a delicious cake.”
“Oh no, it’s way too dry.”

“That blog post you published last week was great.”
“Really?… Read more ...

Do you want to be a Key Person of Influence?

Key Person of Influence

When I was young, I use to go into the local bank and I’d notice that some of the tellers would decorate their work spaces with funny cartoons. Invariably, they were tongue-in-cheek jibes about the nature of work. The characters in the cartoons would complain about their bosses, the hours, and the mere fact that they had to be there.

Even as a child, I was puzzled as to why people would stay in a job where they found more to complain about than to enjoy. I assumed, that these cartoons were a reflection of what these bank tellers thought about their work.

Then, when I entered the workforce for myself, I worked with people who would say things like: “I hope your day is well despite the fact that it’s a Monday” or “It’s Wednesday! More than half the week is gone. Hooray!”

These same people always left work 15 minutes early, never went the extra mile and always gave the impression that they found work to be a chore.

I guess I’m really lucky because I love what I do but I found it confounding that people would stay in a job that they don’t enjoy.… Read more ...

As an entrepreneur, how much should you reveal on your blog?

post fingers on laptop

I’m fascinated by the world of blogging. Whether you blog about parenting, life, toy trains or business, the blogosphere is a wonderful way to connect with people in your community and beyond.

Many entrepreneurial bloggers use it as a marketing tool – a way to connect with customers through smart and helpful content marketing. Their posts position them as experts in their field; their articles become must-read content. As a result, they gain a loyal following.

But how much is too much?
Some other entrepreneurs use their blog more as a way to track their entrepreneurial journey. They chronicle the highs, lows and lessons along the way. But how much is too much?

The world of blogging is all about authenticity. And some business bloggers are comfortable about talking about their failures. There is nothing wrong with this at all. However, I have been following a particular founder’s blog for the past year. And, I have to admit, it’s compelling reading. But for all the wrong reasons.

She is always tired, always stressed and rarely writes about any good news in her business.… Read more ...

The one where I emerge from a bubble – and writer’s block

Celebrating the end of writer's block on the back deck.

Celebrating the end of writer’s block on the back deck.

For the last month, I’ve been in a (self-imposed) bubble. No, I didn’t decide to do a digital detox. I didn’t go to New Jersey to marry Jon Bon Jovi. And no one bought my business for a billion dollars so that I could laze on a beach in Bali, sipping cocktails for the rest of my life.

The bubble has been the result of the fact that I’m been immersed in two major projects which have consumed my life. Hence, the infrequent blog posts, the paltry number of Tweets, the intermittent appearances on Facebook and – shame of all shames – the failure to experience Christmas properly (and all the things that go with it – like writing Christmas cards, putting thought into gifts, and so on).

Forgive me, I was on another planet.

While I wish I could have been Superwoman – able to combine overseeing these projects with everything else in life in a single bound – this was simply not going to happen.

And I’m ok with that.… Read more ...

My new fave tool: Penzu.com

Penzu

Many readers will already know that I’m in love with Evernote. It’s a tool that I use every single to day to take notes, write articles and store information that I need to keep for future reference. However, I now have another love: Penzu.com

It’s ok. I’m not cheating on Evernote. They both now have a firm place in my heart.

Evernote helps me collate and create.
Penzu helps me think and process.

If you’re not familiar with Penzu, it’s an online journal. Its website describes it thus: “Penzu is an online diary and personal journal that is focused on privacy. With a unique and compelling user experience, it makes writing online as easy and intuitive as writing on a pad of paper.”

For fellow Latin geeks, it’s derived from “pensare” which means to ponder, examine or be full of thought.

When do I use Penzu?
You know those days when you have so many things to do, or so many ideas to pursue, that you just don’t know where to start. It’s when you feel so overwhelmed that you just don’t know what to do next.… Read more ...

Why your role model might not be right for you

Role Model

When it comes to choosing the right role model, I see too many people choosing … the wrong one. It’s a trend that’s been exacerbated by the online world.

That’s because if someone is smart about building an online profile, they get exposure and visibility. However, it’s so important not to confuse “profile” with “success”.

Here’s an example. I was talking to my friend, Alice (not her real name). She talked about how inspired she was about the journey of a famous blogger/startup entrepreneur who has managed to carve out an enviable lifestyle travelling the world and running his business from his laptop. We’ll call him John.

As a result, Alice modelled her blog and her business on John’s. She wrote headlines, just like John’s. She talked about creating products, just like John’s. And I began to notice certain graphics and phrases creep into her blog that looked eerily like those I’d seen on John’s blog.

Alice aspires to have a healthy income well in excess of six figures. (You know, closer to seven figures.) She wants to make enough money to invest in long-term assets, and she has plans to create a mini-empire.… Read more ...

One of the smartest (and dumbest) laws in Australia

Smartest

The one thing that government should change about superannuation.

I’m generally a calm person. But if there is one thing that gets me fired up, it’s insane tax laws and dumb regulations.

One of the dumbest relates to the way we have to treat our superannuation. Don’t get me wrong. I think the concept of super is awesome. But the regulations on how we can invest these funds border on moronic. Superannuation laws are among the smartest and dumbest in Australia…Read more ...