New name, new look – welcome to the Australian Writers’ Centre

Welcome to the Australian Writers' Centre POST VK
Changing your name is no easy task. But that's exactly what we did this week. And let me tell you … it's freaking exhausting. In case you missed it, we changed our name to Australian Writers' Centre. For the past seven years, we've been building the Sydney Writers' Centre brand and business. Through lots of hard work and, yes, some sleepless nights, it's a brand that has gained recognition, established a good reputation and become a favourite among many students who learn with us. So the decision to evolve our name hasn't been easy. Over the past couple of years I've wrestled with the idea of changing our name. Canvassing the possibility resulted in a range of responses: "But you'll lose your SEO." "Oh I like the word 'Sydney'." "That's a really bad idea." "Go for it!" "Have you bought your new URL yet?" For some time, I almost convinced myself that keeping the word "Sydney" could work. We could run the "Sydney Writers' Centre" in Melbourne, right? Ummmm, no. Well, not without a great deal of difficulty and ensuing confusion anyway. I knew in my heart that the name had to change. And once I made the decision to rebrand to the Australian Writers' Centre, I just knew it was the the right thing to do.

Naked ambition: baring all for small business

Work in the Nude Day POST
When my friend Robert Gerrish told me that he was going to work in the nude as a celebration of the freedom he has thanks to his life as a solopreneur, I thought … "Good Lord. Robert's gone nuts." Well, it turns out he won't be the only one in the nuddy.Many other members of the Flying Solo community have also pledged to follow suit in their respective birthday suits. "Work in the Nude Day" inspired this week's Enterprise post.

My life in a minute: Breakfast with Twitter, Power Stories to launch in Brazil, Join our Summer School

Adorable Rocky patiently waits to be let in
I'm usually a hermit. I love nothing more than being cocooned at home with my furry babies.

However, my diary had other plans for me this week. So what's been on the agenda?

Power Stories to launch in Brazil Big news this week is that my book Power Stories: The 8 stories you MUST tell to build an epic business will be launched in Brazil. The publishers are busy translating it into Portuguese as you read this.

I can't wait to see the version they sell in Brazil. I won't be able to read a word of it – but I'm sure I'll be excited anyway!

Breakfast with Twitter Sean Callanan at @SportsGeek organised breakfast at the SCG with Mike Brown, Twitter's head of international growth, this week. Twitter is expanding its reach here. My friends know that getting me to an early breakfast appointment is nothing short of a miracle. Getting me to the SCG is an even bigger one.

Nevertheless, it was worthwhile to hear from the likes of Mike, Wendell Sailor (yes, he's massive), Scott Dools (yes, he's funny) and Shaynna Blaze (yes, she's gorgeous).

Are you getting the basics right?

Are you getting the basics right POST
This week I had to drive to a restaurant I've never been to before. When I'm driving to unfamiliar places I use my car's GPS system. So I looked up the address of the restaurant. Its website simply stated the street name but no street number.

I don't know about your car's GPS system, but mine insists on me typing in a street number before it will even allow me to progress to typing in the street name. In the past, when I haven't known the street number, I've typed in a random number in the hope that I would spot my destination (if it's a store, cafe, or place with signage) by driving up and down the street. Tip: this is not productive. Especially if you're on something like Epping Road or Pacific Highway.

A cheeky approach to business growth

Mike Larsen POST
You gotta love someone who is prepare to put themselves out there. That's why I like this YouTube video so much. Mike Larsen is normally a pretty straight-laced, serious corporate guy who recently jumped ship to found his own startup, In order to spread the word about his new business, he's done his very own Ricky Gervais impression in this online video.

His antics – which included taking out an advertisement on his competitor's website – inspired this week's Enterprise post.

What’s on your entrepreneurial bookshelf?

What's on your entrepreneurial bookshelf? POST
This week I popped into the Lululemon store in Balmain. Now, if you're familiar with Lululemon you'll know that it's the sort of place that sells workout gear, sports bras and yoga clothes. As I'm currently on a health kick, I picked out some pieces to inspire me and headed to the checkout.

An odd collection of books
When I got there I spied a row of books that looked like they were for sale. I was expecting to find books on meditation, health, fitness and mung beans. But instead (as you can see from the picture), the books included:

From bricks-and-mortar failure to online success

From bricks and mortar failure to online success
I love stories about entrepreneurs. I've sure you've figured that out by now. It always amazes me how much some entrepreneurs will put it all on the line to turn their business dreams into reality. It's not just the financial commitment, it's the stress and sleepless nights that go with it. So when I heard John Allen and Mitch Fraser's story, I wanted to share it.

John Allen and Mitch Fraser know what it's like to fail. Three years ago, their entrepreneurial dreams were dashed and they almost walked away from what has now become successful home loan comparison site, Tomorrow Finance.

Allen, 28 and Fraser, 29, learnt a hard lesson after investing a combined $80,000 into a business that they thought would disrupt the home loan industry.

Tomorrow Finance works in a similar way to a mortgage broker. But while mortgage brokers often receive trailing commissions (which they receive for the life of the loan), Fraser and Allen negotiate one-off fees with the banks. Because the banks don't have to pay ongoing fees for the life of the loan, Allen says this results in a cheaper home loan for consumers.

Taking the plunge
The pair had so much faith in their new idea, they plunged headfirst into the business at the end of 2009 and spent the next four months negotiating arrangements with banks. Allen quit a job at professional services firm PwC and moved back home with his mum. Fraser scaled back his own web development business in order to focus on the new venture.

My life in a minute: Foamy peas, fancy limos and a great bulk order book deal.

Life in a minute 16 No 2012 POST
So many wonderful things going on - bulk orders of my book, foamy peas, limos, articles and reviews ... and a partridge in a pear tree. No, wait ... not just yet.

Do you need an advisory board?

Do you need an advisory board POST
Two heads are better than one. Even better when there are three heads or more. I’m talking about tapping into a brains trust of people who can give you advice about your business. That’s where an advisory board can help, particularly if you are a small to medium sized business. That inspired this week’s Enterprise post.

Last week, an up-and-coming entrepreneur asked me to be on her board of advisers. As she’s just starting out in business, it’s a smart move. She wants to tap into the brains of people who have had more experience than she has, and soak up their advice.

When I first started my business, I didn’t seek advice, mentoring or coaching of any kind. But I wish I had. It took me a few years before I had my first mentor and it transformed the way I approached my business.

Members of an advisory board to a small business often participate on a voluntary basis. However, depending on their level of involvement, payment (or an equity stake) may be involved. There are few formalised rules over how a board of advisers should be run, so it’s up to you to determine what will work for your business and what you need to do to get the right people on board (pardon the pun).

Podcast: My “Power Stories” chat with Timbo Reid (“Small Business, Big Marketing”)

You may remember that a few months ago I did a crazy thing. I drove from Melbourne to Sydney (that's not the crazy bit) with my three furry babies in the car (that's not the crazy bit either). Apart from my two fluffy white cats and one fluffy white dog, the only other thing accompanying me on that v-e-ee-e-r-r-ry l-o-o-o-o-o-o-g trip was 11 hours of Tim Reid's fabulous "Small Business, Big Marketing" podcast.

Yes, my iPod did not have a single song on it. But I had many hours of Tim Reid (more famously known as Timbo Reid) in my ears. He kept me sane on that long journey. Well, initially. After 11 hours … well, I was going a little bit nuts.

Sex, lies and Silicon Valley

Sex lies Silicon Valley POST
Entrepreneurs beware: it's not just what you do, it's who you do it with

We met online. Then we fell in love.

I have Monika's Doggie Rescue to thank for bringing sweet adorable Rambo into my life ... wouldn't you like to fall in love too?

My life in a minute: Radio segments, fluff balls – and still getting cosy with Richard Branson

Life in a minute 2 Nov 2012 FEATURE
"Power Stories" keeps powering on ... on the radio, on a podcast and right next to Richard Branson on the bestseller lists ... all the while I'm inspired by Kelly Exeter and exhausted shepherding the furries to the vet ...

Anatomy of an app

Anatomy of an app FEATURE
Games are no longer just for children. Thanks to a burgeoning app market, they're now big business for adults too.

This is war: when all is not well in your world

This is war FEATURE
Getting angry may feel like the right thing to do but it is rarely as effective as staying calm and talking the issue through.

It’s party time for schoolies entrepreneur

Enterprise post 25 Oct 2012 FEATURE
Three weeks. Six million dollars. Multiple parties. One very successful business.

How to write a business bestseller: I reveal all

How to write a business bestseller POST
Want to write a buzz-generating business book? There's just one place to find out everything you need to know!

Meet The Shrink for Entrepreneurs

Peter Shallard POST
Peter Shallard is known as The Shrink For Entrepreneurs and his amazing new video illustrates the profound effect he is having on the lives of many people. Check it out!

3 business books that changed my life: Andrew Birt, co-founder of Angelcube and LIFX Labs

Andrew Birt POST FINAL
Andrew Birt, co-founder of Angelcube, and LIFX Labs has been inspired by the lives of many entrepreneurs. But I asked him to narrow it down to just the “3 business books that changed my life” and here are his choices.

My life in a minute: 19 October 2012

DWEN-Valerie Khoo-Kylie-Emma
My life in a minute: Lots of wonderful activity with DWEN and Problogger ... but also the calmness of hugs from my furry babies ... and yes itself.