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Small Business Revitalization Blog

Small Business Coaching: Revive Your Profits, Revitalise Your Perspectives, Reinvigorate Your People

The Secret to Keeping Your 2011 New Year Resolutions

It is January 10 already and business owners everywhere are getting back to work and hoping that 2011 will be way more profitable and generative than 2010!!  Most of us have made the odd New Year resolution or ten for our businesses and are now wondering what it’s going to take for it all to fall into place with ease!

The single biggest mistake I see people make when setting targets is to make a decision that there is only one acceptable outcome.  What if there were hundreds of fantastic possibilities that you just haven’t become aware of yet?  Would you be willing to have any of those instead of, or as well as what you have in mind?

When I make a target (New Year or otherwise!) I set it with the intention that I’m willing to have something much greater, something I haven’t thought of yet or something that will lead my business into places that set me up for an even more phenomenal future, despite what may sometimes look like ‘failure’ on the surface!

When I worked in corporate, so much importance was vested in the strategic plan. How much of that is a traditional point of view we have bought as real when maybe the current truth about success in business is something else?  Strategic planning has been around for a long time and comes from a time when the world moved at one zillionth of the speed it does now.  If we stick to our plan, then we fail to factor in all of the new choices and possibilities that are always coming our way!

In my experience, it is much more effective to get your projects up and running as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible so that you can see clearly what needs to change!  The most successful people and businesses are not caught up in doing exactly what they said they would in their plan – they are focused on regular reassessment, realignment and adjustment so that they can attain the best results possible given all of the possibilities.

January is a time to put lots of energy into getting everything you can set up, for setting a solid foundation for what you desire to have in your business in 2011, and most importantly for working out quickly what strategies are going to deliver your vision with ease and what ideas need a tiny tweak or a total reinvention!!

Think of your business like surfing… you paddle out, you choose a wave, you paddle like crazy… you catch the wave (or not!), ride it until it stops flowing for you and then do the same again… and each time the wave is different, the conditions are different, you create new possibilities and have different choices.  Time to lose the blinkers!! 

If you fall down, you get up, have a look at what happened, develop a new balance and have another go, all the while looking out for the next great wave rather than lamenting the one you missed… that’s what distinguishes successful businesses from failures!!  What would it take for you to catch a whole lot of waves this month?

This simple strategy is the first step in ‘keeping’ your New Year resolutions!  What are the infinite possibilities of 2011 being so much more than your New Year resolutions and your plans?  What abundant surprises would you be willing to receive and enjoy in your life and your business this year?

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Overcoming the Downsides of Upselling

Right now you are probably thinking your business mentor has gone completely  mad – how can there possibly be a downside to upselling?  

Well here it is… the thoughtful and gracious Natalie Alaimo made a comment on Facebook this week about how unblissful it is for a client when they’ve just had a beautiful relaxing facial to have the beautician then do the full-on upsell  to the client on the products they have just used.  The Facebook discussion ran rife with the girls all commenting on how awful the process is and the blokes not seeing it as a problem…. Hmmmmm maybe the blokes need a little more nurturing!  

Upselling skincare products at the end of a nurturing experience is pretty much the fastest way to bring your client out of bliss and into a burdensome space where they need to say no to you (not easy for many people)!  

Day spas, is this really the way you want your clients to remember you?  So what do you do as a business owner when you are in the business of nurturing and your clients are resistant to the upsell?

My tip is to look at your entire sales process – is there a better place or a better way to upsell than how everyone in your industry does this?  

For example, I would be perfectly happy if a day spa asked me to rebook another appointment – more nurturing?  YES please!  More product?  NO thanks – I already have product I love and there is no joy for me in discussing and justifying my choices with you Ms Beautician!!  

I have also seen forward thinking day spas offer clients a short questionnaire at the start of the relationship where you can choose to identify that you are looking for new skincare products – that allows the sales process to be a natural part of the consultation instead of a clumsy afterthought that gets in the way of the clients bliss!!

What needs changing about your sales process?  Are there more intuitive places to upsell than you are using right now?  Go play with your sales experience from your customers perspective and see what gives… you may just open the door to a whole lot more sales!!

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Why would you reinvent business?

"no matter what the cost to our people..." is the bit that most organisations conveniently forget to add!!

Recently I had a fit of curiosity and asked my LinkedIn connections for ideas on how they would reinvent business.  I had a heap of thought-provoking responses, including the fellow  who wrote back and pretty much said it’s been a fabulous system for the past few hundred years and there’s no reason to change a thing! 

After I got over wondering where he keeps his blinkers while he sleeps, I started thinking about what an interesting response it was – I’ve been searching for years, how could I possibly have missed the Centre of Utopian Business?  Does it exist or is it yet to be created?

Here’s the top 5 things I’ve seen since I’ve been in the workforce that really don’t work…  (hmmm the word ‘workforce’ does not exactly exude joy does it? Could we call our people ‘peopleflow’ or ‘playflow’ instead??)

1.   Since the industrial revolution business has put profits well in front of people, leading to record-breaking levels of bullying, stress, depression, death, slave labour, environmental destruction and many other non-joyful outcomes, all for the benefit of the few at the top.

2.   The business world has a really severe case of ‘meeting-itis’ – apparently no drugs have been found to cure it yet and the virus is confusing people into believing they are leading rich, rewarding, purposeful lives.

3.   The insanely competitive race for profits, efficiency and productivity has seen the death of honesty, integrity and authenticity at pretty much all levels of many organizations, leading to a talent exodus from big business.  The structures that have sustained us for hundreds of years are disintegrating quickly!

4.   There is a lack of innovation and creativity in most businesses – real differentiation is rare except in the new-fangled creative accounting departments which sadly surprise us with their financial ingenuity far too often!

5.   There is little sense of true connection or community, even though bank advertising would have you believe it’s all about the love they have for us (LOL!).  There is mostly surface level connection between shareholders, senior managers, staff and customers – instead it is all about secrets, sabotage and scarcity.  What if there could be true non-competitive collaboration instead?

What would it take to reinvent business in ways that allow new and more blissful business choices?  The good news is, some of the real leaders in business (and generally that’s NOT the CEO’s of big business!) have already started paving the way…  times like these create massive possibilities for those willing to be different!!

Some businesses are choosing to make their workplace an engaging and enticing place to spend 8 hours a day rather than worrying about every last cent – think Google, Red Balloon Days and Carmen’s Fine Foods - (funnily enough they are all growing businesses.)

Some leaders are smart enough to know that ‘meeting-it is’ can be cured using holistic approaches – apparently simply holding a stand-up meeting will bring massive relief to sufferers!

Smart, intuitive, creative people are leaving big corporations to start their own businesses in droves because there is no bliss, love or joy to be found in traditional business and spending 8 – 12 hours a day doing something you hate just doesn’t cut it anymore.  Many are now building their own authentic, collaborative, inspirational communities so that business can be reinvented to sustain purpose, people and profits!  

I predict that over time these new leaders will be teaching the old leaders how it’s done…  Every day I connect with courageous, interesting, creative business owners and employees looking for ways to reinvent business that are ethical, blissful and sustainable… what would it take to be the change you want to see in the world?  (Or you could keep on with groundhog day… how’s it working for you??)

Want to join a conversation of real leaders?  Here’s a couple of choices for you:

Connect with people who are ‘different like you’ for two blissful days of Unconference presentations and conversations at The Bliss Connection in beautiful Maleny (Qld, Australia) on 30/31 October 2010…

or connect with BlissTribe on Facebook!

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Creating New Business Possibilities

Staying positive in business is about getting and staying unstuck! The easiest way to get unstuck is to create change in the area of “stuckness” – it doesn’t have to be the ‘right’ and perfect change… just enough change for us to see the situation differently!  At that point magic can happen!

When I’m stuck (yes it still happens occasionally!!) I like to ask… ‘What other possibilities could I consider here?’ and list at least ten.  If we are willing to have ease in our life and business, our choice can always be for change rather than challenge!

When you are choosing which of these new possibilities to play with, always go with the one that feels the lightest – it will have the most potential for creative change.  When something feels heavy it is usually a less than joyful choice for us.  So what would it take for you to choose to shift the energy of your business just by making different choices?  

Sometimes these choices look tiny but can swing big possibilities!  Sometimes choices that feel really big actually make little discernable difference.  (This is one time when size doesn’t matter!!!)  Be brave – when everything changes, you can change everything!!

Ask which choice will create the most possibilities for bliss and head in that direction.  It may look like a detour, but sometimes those less-travelled routes are far more scenic and enjoyable than we can ever imagine at the start of the journey.  

Here’s a few other questions that can create more possibilities in your life and business…

•   What would it take to change this?
•   What else is possible that I haven’t thought of yet?
•   Who can help me change this?
•   What would I change if I could change anything in the universe?
•   What possibilities have I not thought of yet?  What would it take to see these possibilities with clarity?

Scientist have proven that when a butterfly flaps its wings the changes are felt on the other side of the world… what are you willing to create and change today that can change your world?  It’s just a choice you know!!

(Sometimes it takes someone else to help us see these possibilities – if you want to harness some group energy in creating change – come play with us on the Gold Coast on October 19th – we’re creating a whole lot of new possibilities for all who attend!!)

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When Different Equals Depth

Image Credit
Cirque du Soleil created a circus like no other.  They delved deep into what is really important to an audience about going to the circus and created a profoundly moving and meaningful experience which far surpasses the common definition of ‘circus’.

One way to create a real and distinctive point of difference in your business is to go deeply into your industry and reinvent it from scratch.  Inspired by Cirque du Soleil, here are seven questions you could ask to create a totally new way of doing business in your industry:

  • What is the most remarkable, memorable experience we could have our audience (ie ideal client) experience?
  • How do you keep the experience fresh for your performers and audience when you are running the same show day after day after day?
  • How can you integrate the creative abilities of each individual artist (staff, suppliers, clients…)?
  • What content (products/services) can you create and generate using different cultures, talents and abilities that are not traditionally used in your industry?
  • Where can you remove the curtains that sit between artist and audience?  What could that create?
  • What story can you tell that will engage, energise and evoke a response from your audience?
  • Who can you partner with to create innovative directions for your upcoming projects?
The success of Cirque du Soleil is multi-faceted - the questions above are only just scratching the surface! Take a company you admire for their capacity to be different and deconstruct their approach… you’ll discover multiple layers of useful questions to ask along the way!

What company do you most admire for their capacity to be profitably different?  What do you think makes them so phenomenal?

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Want Massive Business Growth? Be Different!

Lemmings Tshirt

Have you ever noticed that society encourages us to fit in and follow everyone else and then we start a business and find that what’s actually required for success is to be the difference we truly be?  The challenge is we have become so brainwashed in the meantime that working out the points of difference or unique selling proposition in our business feels impossibly difficult.

Here are three simple ways I teach business owners how to create a business that is genuinely different:

1.   Be willing to have more than one unique selling proposition (USP) or point of difference – a combination of ten or more differentiating factors is sooooooo much harder for competitors to copy.  (And it’s a lot more fun to talk about ten differences rather  than just one – you can tailor your comments to your audience more easily.)

2.   Consider your personal contribution to the solutions you are offering to your clients.  What is there in your personal experience or expertise which can create possibilities that competitors just won’t see because their personal experiences are different?  (I  often work with highly stressed business owners – this is a direct result of teaching myself to recover from severe burn-out!)

3.   Use creative thinking techniques to develop new ideas in all areas of your business.  Your points of difference don’t all need to be customer facing – some of the best innovations occur behind the scenes but they create a marketable point of difference because you are raising the bar to entry in your industry. 

As Mark Twain so neatly put it: 'Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.'  Come play with being distinctively different at the next Revive Business Coaching Playshop and we'll discover everything that's awesome about your business!  If you can't be there in person, the detailed Playbook and recording will be available for purchase after the event!

Share your thoughts below:  "What is the most challenging part of creating a distinctively different and profitable business for you?"


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What is Cloud Computing?

Today we're talking all things Cloud Computing with guest blogger Linda Gaiao from Cloud VBS... if you've ever wondered if there's an easier way to run your small business computing take a look at this!

Who would have thought that the words cloud and computing would ever go together? Or that this would be where the next generation of computers would be heading?

Back to the beginning
From the 1950’s most large scale and powerful computer systems used for critical applications were referred to as mainframe computers. End user’s would send and receive information that was relayed backwards and forwards from the mainframe to their screen and they worked on a “dumb” terminal with no computing power.  All business information and software were housed by the main frame and were centrally managed.

In the 1970’s and 1980’s minicomputers became popular.  The trend was now for each individual user to have their own desktop or laptop, with their information stored locally on their individual machine which had the computing power. In business more employees equalled more need to share information across the computers (data networking). The volume of data and the space to store it were fast becoming requirements too.

With the growth of the internet and e-businesses in the 1990’s, high volumes of visitors were performing transactions online which needed to be processed by high powered computers. This is where web servers became popular, and started the move back towards centralised computing.

Fast forward to today
The level of security on the internet and on data centre servers is now way superior to what any individual user or business can provide in house. Servers are now able to host multiple operating systems and thereby operate not as a single computer but as a number of virtual machines. 

How does CLOUD fit into this?
In the IT world CLOUD is a word used to describe the internet.  CLOUD computing is essentially a computer accessed through the internet.  The computer lives on a server in a data centre and uses the server’s awesome power, security and data storage function to operate.  As an end user your mini computer is now a thin client (“dumb” machine), which will connect via the internet to your CLOUD computer on the backend super computers.
This marks a full circle in the IT world – back to a centralised computing model.

A true virtual PC!
Imagine being able to access your full computer and everything loaded on it from any device at any time, form anywhere in the world....
With CLOUD computing the possibilities and advantages for business are enormous.  
•   Increase or decrease computer processing power and data storage capacity at the click of a button.  
•   Software (Office) and operating systems (XP, Windows7) upgrades are done automatically without purchasing or loading.
•   Security is robust and centrally managed (SAS 70 certification).
•   Maintenance on the server is performed by the host.
•   Services are pay as you go (similar to an electricity bill).
•   Lower capital and operating costs.
•   Scalability as business grows.
•   Thin clients are reliable, need minimal maintenance and have a longer lifespan.
•   Access to your business information from any device (PC), anywhere in the world.

For more information: contact Lynda Gaiao
Business:  Cloud VBS (Virtual Business Solutions)
Phone:      +61 7 5502 8106
Website: au

If you are looking to run any sort of 'virtual' business then its time to investigate cloud computing... how much easier can you make your IT?

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What if I am WRONG?

Today’s Small Business blog post answers a business mindset question from Caroline in the UK, who posted this question at

“I am relatively new into running my own business, having worked in a large corporate previously. How do you overcome the mental challenge of that little voice that says - you aren't good enough or - what if you advise someone and you get it wrong etc!”

Great question, and one that all of us who make the transition from employee to business owner ask ourselves more than once!!  Here are a couple of simple strategies for overcoming the anxiety monkey that sits on your shoulder just waiting for you to make a mistake…

Most of us have been raised to believe we have to be good enough… we have to deserve… we have to perform… we have to deliver… we have to continually prove ourselves... we have to…………. (the list is never ending!).  

So the first step is to recognize that the little voice inside our head probably did not originally belong to us.  I use a simple tool of sending all of those niggling negative thoughts back to wherever they came from (with consciousness attached).  If you do that every time you have some doubts, that little voice has absolutely no power and you’ll find those thoughts will disappear.  You don't have to know who gave them to you, but you do need to be willing to choose another reality!

The second strategy I use is to ask some questions that change the energy of these thoughts and create new realities…

What if you didn’t have to prove anything to anybody in relation to your business?  Who would you be?  How would you conduct your business?  What choices would you make?  What other possibilities could you create and generate which go way beyond what you can imagine right now…?  

What if there was no right or wrong?  I see business as a series of choices… it is my job to offer my clients a range of possibilities they may not have thought of yet… and it is my clients job to make the choice that will work best for them.  I may guide them towards an effective model for making a choice, but I don’t make the choice for them.  Ultimately, all clients are responsible for their own business decisions and your contract and insurances should cover that clearly. 

If they are into judgment and making you (as the consultant or coach) into their scapegoat it’s worth asking if they really are your ideal client!!  Of course, if you have made a mistake, do whatever is required to resolve the issue fairly - your reputation rests upon it!  Most people will be very decent if you are proactive and committed to finding a solution that works for the client.

Got a small business question?  Ask it at

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Creative Empire Building

Have you ever wondered how Richard Branson built his empire from nothing?  What’s certain is that when he was 19 and larking about with his student newspaper he didn’t sit down and write out a business plan that included owning a couple of airlines, a space program, an island paradise and a financial institution or two!  

At 19 Branson was just like most small business owners… thinking really creatively about where  income could come from so he could pay the bills.  So what changed?  Those who dare to think big with their businesses are adept at taking the next step…

What’s different about their next step is that it is the step beyond what they can see clearly now.  Leaders who live large are willing to take steps into the unknown.  If you want to live a life larger than any movie star or business guru, this is the first and only step you need to take… and you’ll need to take a lot of them!!

So what’s the use of a business plan or strategic plan if stepping beyond the obvious is all that’s required?  Well, this morning I woke up at 4am (sleepless in Brisbane) dreaming intricate details of the products I’m creating for BlissTribe.  

Over the weekend we had done some creative brainstorming on BlissTribe and this had clearly carried over into my subconscious.   Last night those plans showed me the next steps beyond my waking imagination…that’s why I create plans!! I use plans to dream and to create… to develop my ideas beyond what I can see now… to catch glimpses of what else is possible and to discover what those ‘next steps’ could look like.  

Does this make planning sound just a little more interesting and appealing to you?  If you want to accelerate your business with ease… the Revive Business Coaching Planning Playshop on 21 June could be just the catalyst you require!

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Motivating Staff – (Empty) Words Are Not Enough!

Image Credit

In the course of my somewhat chequered career in marketing and sales, I worked for a range of small – medium businesses.  One of the oft quoted platitudes from business owners was “we’re family  here” – mostly said to entice employees to work enormous hours for no extra cash, to make unreasonable demands rather than requests and to create a general sense of guilt – as in: ‘we gave you a job…you owe us everything’ .  This approach is often coupled with vague promises of future rewards.

It makes you wonder what type of family these people had!! As an employee, working conditions like that generally bring the response: “ If that’s how you treat your family, I’d rather be an orphan!”

So let’s ask the multimillion dollar question that most business owners are really wanting to answer when they behave like this:  “What does it take to have employees do their best work and for everyone to profit?”

Well, integrity is a good start.  In western countries slave labour has been abolished for quite some time.  So if you truly intend to create a workplace that feels like home in the best possible sense then it’s time to get creative!

Carmen’s Fine Foods in Australia provides an inspiring example of what’s possible.  Ever had the pleasure of an office nanny… your car washed every fortnight… or a boss who actually asks ‘on a scale of one to ten, how stressed are you?’ each week and then does something about it?  Hmmm I didn’t think so!!  (And for the scrooges out there… Carmen’s has virtually NO staff turnover… ) wouldn’t you rather invest in keeping your team loving their work, than hating you and leaving as a result??

Just a thought… as someone who has sat on both sides of the fence… (maybe its time to dismantle the fence too!!).

If 'we're family here' is a value you hold in your business, what are you doing to uphold it?  Please share your creative ideas here...

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