What opportunities are you missing by taking things for granted?
I am not an expert in Microsoft Excel but I can use it competently and am aware of its capabilities even when I don’t use some features.
And it hadn’t occurred to me that someone who uses Excel for various tasks wouldn’t know that you can easily create graphs from the data entered into Excel. It’s just obvious to me so I took it for granted that it was obvious to others.
Yet, that isn’t the case.
A couple of weeks ago I did a presentation which included a simple graph on one slide. Afterwards, I was talking with a client and he mentioned wanting some graphs for a report he was working on.
Long story short, he didn’t know excel would do that for him.
I set up that simple graph for him and now am managing a larger excel-based project for him. I say managing because it is a more complex graph so I have outsourced it to someone I know who is an Excel expert!
It has me thinking though. How many more graphs could my client have used, in reports or presentations or for his own use, if I had told him about excel graphs sooner?
How many clients could I have referred to my excel expert?
When we know something, it’s hard to remember that many others don’t know it or at least know it as well as well as we do.
Are there some obvious tasks or skills you aren’t seeing for your business?
I wonder what great opportunities you could find by spotting those obvious tasks and skills…
There are always two sides to a coin, two side to a story and two perspectives to view things by.
On Tuesday, the Federal Budget was announced.
I’ve read quite a few summaries of the Budget so I can write updates for clients. Some are better than others, of course.
However, my point relates to how small business is impacted by this Budget. Noting that small business got very little direct mention by the Government in this budget.
A number of business groups have released their view that Government ignored this significant sector of our economy. As advocates of this diverse group, they are annoyed because small business don’t appear to have been included.
Yet another business group or two has put out the view that small business was lucky to have avoided the attention big business got in the Budget. I for one am glad we don’t have to report PAYG each month, for instance.
Both views are based on the same fact (little mention of small business) but are looking at it in different ways. I found that very interesting.
How often do you feel overwhelmed with things?
How often do you feel quiet – no tweets, emails or status updates firing at, no phone calls or client/boss requests, no attempts at reducing a to do list?
As I mentioned a few days ago, I heard a webinar in which Matthew May spoke about his book, The Laws of Subtraction (6 simple rules for winning in the age of excess everything).
I intend reading this book, and will review it in this blog, as I am very conscious of how much stuff business people have to deal with. We’ve always had to deal with multiple roles (accounts, marketing, sales, staffing, production, etc) but now we have digital presence and technical changes to keep up with as well.
I am also thinking of reading one of his other books, The Shibumi Strategy (A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change). It sounds interesting and apparently is written as a story rather than in typical business book mode.
Matthew’s fifth law is ‘break is the important part of breakthrough’ and I think that will be a very interesting chapter. I think breakthroughs can change lives – whether it is a breakthrough new product that changes the world or a simpler breakthrough on a better way to deal with a difficult client or finding a new tool that will save you time.
Any break from routine/habit/patterns can make us look around, take notice and see the things we take for granted most of the time. Then we can be more creative and find solutions or new ideas.
I like the idea of regularly getting away from my desk – and by regularly I mean once an hour or so – but I admit I often get caught up in things and stay working for longer than I probably should.
So I want to ask how you fit breaks into your working day/week. Is it something you plan or do you ‘go with the flow’?
What do you do in your breaks?
Today I heard a webinar based on the book The Laws of Subtraction (6 simple rules for winning in the age of excess everything). Matthew E May, author of the book was interviewed by Suzi Dafnis of ABN.
His third law hits a similar theme to what I often write so I wanted to share it.
This law is commonly stated as the cliché ‘less is more’ and writers are often told to ‘show not tell’ for more powerful writing.
Giving all the facts leads to overload and disinterests people so I suggest writing as little as possible to suit the message.
But I like Matthew’s twist – I believe it is true that too much information stifles imagination. Giving enough information to set a foundation is enough.
What information can you limit to get people’s imagination working in your favour?
Matthew gave the example of Steve Jobs launching the first iPhone – he showed one, explained some of what it could do and then said no more until it launched a few months later. And something like 20 million people signed up to buy one before it was on sale. That’s a lot of people acting on limited information, isn’t it?* Image from Word Constructions
Maybe it seems a little back to front. I mean, first I reviewed some online chat software and now I am writing about whether or not adding online chat to a website is worth considering.
For me, that’s the order things have happened – I did the research because a client asked me too. And now I am thinking about adding chat to my site as well.
Of course, I could wait a while and see how chat goes for my client… Yet again, their business is so different to mine that any data would probably have limited value.
Here are what I see as the reasons for adding chat to a website…
If online chat was perfect for every website, we’d all have it, right? So here are some downsides to adding an online chat function…
Have I missed any other points to consider?
I think it’s also important that a website gives the right impression. Do you think online chat is suitable for professional businesses or perhaps just for more informal or technology businesses?
Or put it this way, would you ever use an online chat feature on a professional website?
I have been researching online chat software for a client. There are a lot of options available so I thought I’d share some of my observations for anyone else who may be thinking of making their website more interactive.
Of course, these are my personal opinions and experiences, and are based on a user’s perspective. I looked at many websites, compared features and made a short list of six suppliers to try – this is my short list.
I will list these roughly from best to worst so you can skip the rest of the list once you’ve found one to suit you. I’ve added a couple of explanations at the end, too, so you can understand their terminology when visiting their sites.
Prices listed are as listed on their sites – presumably in USD so at least comparable to each other. You can convert to local currency online if need be.
Note many of these have an affiliate program if that is important to you. I am not an affiliate with them (I won’t promote products/services I wouldn’t use myself!) and note that the ones I like best either don’t have or don’t promote an affiliate program – I wonder how coincidental that is?
operator – the person who answers the chats for the business. If you have a system with multiple operators, you can usually personalise it and use their names; if you only have one operator function but multiple staff, they will have to share a name.
pre-prepared response – often called a canned response. SImply a commonly used answer or question that is added to the system to save time and typing during a chat. For example, I could have ‘Yes I write guest blog posts’ or ‘My monthly newsletter is free to subscribe to’ as canned responses.
pre-chat survey - the ability to ask some questions before allowing someone to chat with you. Common questions are name and email address but you can add things like ‘what do you want to ask about?’ or give them a choice of departments to chat to.
permanent window - the chat window will stay open and visible even if the visitor changes pages within your site. This is most relevant if the chat window is not a pop up window (ie is embedded into the page)
If you are looking at doing something like adding a new feature to your website, how do you go about the process?
I love the simplicity of just grabbing one option and running with it, but I would never feel I had the best deal unless I had looked at other options as well. I like to shop around a bit – even if that just helps me learn more about the features to look out for – then create a short list and decide.
Do you need to look at options yourself or are some good reviews enough for you?
I know – Christmas has just gone, Australia Day hasn’t even arrived yet and I’m suggesting you think about Valentines Day!
For many businesses, Valentines Day is a huge sales period and they probably plan and prepare for it months in advance.
But have you thought about it for your business?
Maybe you think it is only for those selling flowers, chocolates and cards, having no relevance to other businesses. While there is some truth to that, you can get more out of Valentines Day if you want to.
Yes, Valentines Day is commercial and it would be great if we showed our love and care for others every day, but it is celebrated every February whether you like it or not. And if you run a business, you can keep it topical through using some Valentines romance.
There are a number of suggestions in my Valentines Day and business article, but here are a few more:
Recently, I saw an article called ‘do you need to hire a SEO expert’.
My immediate response was yes and no – depending on what you mean by ‘need’, you may or may not need a SEO expert.
However, an expert may do it faster and have knowledge to work more efficiently and get better results, but it is possible to do it yourself. Of course, if you don’t know anything about SEO and have to study it first, an expert’s value is greater.
Do you need an SEO person to help you get SEO done alongside everything else you do? Then quite possibly, yes you do. It depends on how busy you are and how much importance you place on SEO obviously, but SEO is one thing you can consider outsourcing.
Of course, if you are just after time saving, you may be able to use someone to work on your SEO (such as finding places to guest blog or comment and checking your site for deadlinks and duplicate meta data) rather than finding someone qualified to give you advice and expertise.
Again, it is a maybe type of answer.
Do you need a professional writer to help you get everything done in a working day? Yes, you quite possibly do need help.
Do you need a professional writer because you can’t do it yourself? That depends on what you’re after. Most people in business can probably write webcopy and blog posts themselves so a writer is perhaps not necessary to get the content onto the page.
However, some people can’t write well so would get much better results via a professional – and probably find it is done with less time and stress, too.
Some people can write reasonably well, but will still benefit from someone who has a better understanding of business writing and can be objective about the content.
So if you can write with good spelling and grammar, understand about writing for a business audience and have plenty of time, no you don’t need a professional writer to help you!
As a writer and communications manager, style guides are important.
It was only when I read a book by a freelance translator and transcriber, Kris Emery, that I thought about style guides for other professionals dealing with words.
So obviously you want that document to be prepared in a way that is easy for you to use.
That could include details such as :
You have a number of options really…
A document-specific style guide will by nature be about details, lots of little details that add up to a polished and useful end result.
It can be pulled together in two hours or so if you have an existing document to work from; faster if you have a style template to work from. That’s not much time compared to adjusting a document every time someone translates or transcribes for you.
What are the first three things you would add to your style guide?
Are they things you consider the most important or just the hardest to do so you prefer someone else gets them right?