Tag Archives: goals

2015 My Year of No Goals

Goals

If you’ve been following this blog for a while or you know me personally, you will no doubt have realised that I am a stickler for a plan. I am a planner, my life has been mapped out with plans and much of what I have achieved in life to date has been the result of a plan.  So yes I like plans, they have served me well and if you’re not a planner there are huge benefits to having a plan as I’m sure you already know, they can significantly impove your productivity in life and in work and are well worth considering.

However, like most things in life there are pro’s and con’s and one of the con’s of planning is that if you take them too far they can confine you. Every year ever since I can remember, on the 31st of December I have taken time out to write out a series of goals for the proceeding year and assessed how I’ve faired that year, based on the goals set on the 31st of December the previous year. Once I got married I would hijack my husband for an hour or two to define the visions he had for our family for the next year. Now, my husband is a visionary, he’s just not as formal as I am, so  I can’t say he finds this yearly request riveting lol. Where as I will request a meeting for everything (including sending him  Outlook meeting requests for date nights) he likes to flow a little more freely. This year  I will be taking a leaf out of his book.

For the first time in my adult life, today  I will not be setting concrete goals for 2015. I have absolute clarity on the direction God is taking me, and I know without  a shadow of a doubt that 2015 will be a year of radical change, but I’m just getting ready to flow with God in  a way that I never have before. The thing about a plan is that it can cause you to close yourself off to great opportunities because they don’t fit neatly into your box. I sense that 2015 will be a year of divine opportunities, unexpected opportunities and even mind blowing opportunities. I’m reminded of the words of Isaiah:

Isaiah 55:8-9 New International Version (NIV)

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I’m getting ready to enter my year of flow and I’m excited about it!

As you get ready for 2015 listen to what God is speaking to your heart, if you get quiet enough you’ll hear it, often it takes the form of a deep sense of peace or an innate sense of knowing. He has a plan for you that is more wonderful than you can comprehend and he wants to communicate it to you directly. So on that note there are two books that I highly recommend you read, both have impacted me tremendously and I believe reading them will profit you greatly:

  1. Living as a Spirit: Hearing the Voice of God on Purpose by Chris palmer
  2. Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God by Dallas Willard.

Finally, thank you for visiting this blog I realy appreciate it and I pray you have a phenomenal 2015!

Love and blessings,
Katrina x

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Street Smarts for Small Businesses

steps to success

The smart person learns from his or her mistakes, a wise person learns from other peoples mistakes

I believe the best way to learn how to be great at something is to seek the advice from those that have successfully gone before you, not to imitate them, but to follow the principles that have made them successful. This is why mentors and also books can provide invaluable help and resources on our journey to achieving our vision and goals. One such book I recently came across is Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham.

The reason I found the book so useful was because it is based on practice not theory. Brodsky himself is a veteran entrepreneur, has been a mentor to a number of successful entrepreneurs, and in addition to co-authoring Street Smarts is a columnist and senior contributing editor for Inc.com.

There are so many gems in this book it was difficult to select just a few so the best advice I can give you is to get the book! But until then here are three things that really resonated with me:

My three favourite principles

1.       Spend your time going after high margin customers let the low margin customers come to you and then negotiate the price up.

This typically means focusing on customers that spend more, but probably buy less. i.e. the customer that buys from you whether your product is on sale or not. These customers are probably more valuable to your business than the serial bargain hunter who only buys during the sale. It is better to spend your time building relationships with the former and letting the latter come to you.

Why? Well, as Brodsky and Burlingham explain, gross profit (the net sales minus the cost of goods and services sold) is the most important figure for a small business; all expenses are paid out of gross profit. To illustrate, if your product costs you £20 to make and you sell it for £35 you are obviously making a decent profit margin, if you sell the same product at £21 even if you sell more, the picture isn’t so rosie. The lower price will undoubtedly attract more customers but this may not actually be of benefit to your business, because not only are you making significantly less profit on each sale (which may not be enough to cover expenses), but you are also having to service significantly more customers which may erode the minimal profit you received from the sale. Yet many small businesses make the mistake of going after lots of low margin sales, these sales look good initially but could actually be costing your business. Better to have few high margin customers than many low margin customers. This is why I’m not a fan of competing on price, as it erodes value for your business and your market. I personally will always compete on value.

2.       There is ONE opportunity you should be thinking about at the beginning of any business

Emotion causes you to want to jump on every new opportunity that arises, but as Brodsky and Burlingham state “the numbers (as discussed above) will help you balance your emotion”.

Most entrepreneurs are ideas people so they tend to struggle with focusing on one idea at a time, perhaps you can relate :) however, When you have limited time and limited money as is the case for most small businesses, focus is a must.

Focus and discipline are more important than chasing opportunities when building a business– a plan helps you do this. As Brodsky and Burlingham state; “eventually your business will grow so strong that it won’t need you, and then you can chase opportunities to your hearts content”.

3.       First mover advantage is overrated

You often hear that to be successful you need a unique product or service or you should choose a business with as little competition as possible. Brodsky advices the opposite, because there is nothing more expensive than educating a market. This one’s definitely food for thought :)

These three principles barely scrape the surface of what the book has to offer, so if you’ve recently started a business or are planning to do so in the near future then I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

If you do decide to read it, please come back and let me know what you think and what your favourite principles are.

Speak soon,
Katrina

PS:here’s Norm Brodsky’s Twitter handle @NormBrodsky if you wish to follow him.

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Listen To Your Market But Don’t Lose Sight Of Your Vision

vision

I was led to write this post based on this quote I recently read in a book called Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days:

“ It’s good to be market-driven in the sense that you should know what’s going on, but you can’t let your customers drive your product development. You need to be able to develop on behalf of your customers, but they often don’t know what they want.”  - David Heinemeier, Partner at Basecamp (formerly 37 signals)

A lot of times when starting out in business we will do anything to get and keep a customer, because of cause no customers equals no business.

However, it’s so easy to get caught up in just getting a customer that we lose sight of the type of customers that we actually want. All customers are not created equal, some customers are better for your business than others.

Think 80/20 rule,  in most businesses 20% of the customers drive 80% of the revenue, so focus on finding and taking care of those high value customers that have needs that are perfectly suited to what you offer. The best place to start is with buyer personas, what do your ideal customers look like? This ebook 101Handy Questions to Ask When Developing a Buyer Persona will help you to build a picture of your ideal customers that you can use as a benchmark for everything you do.

But before you even get to your customers it’s important to define your vision what is the image of your business that has been placed on your heart?

I like this quote from a book I’m reading by Myles Munroe – The Principles and Power of Vision;

“To find your vision you have to look within yourself where God has placed it. The key is this: God’s will is as close to us as our most persistent thought and deepest desires”

Don’t let anyone distract you from the vision not even your customers. I say this because many business owners have ended up with businesses that they never intended to have, because they allowed customers or others to dictate or derail their vision. It’s great to get customer opinions and a lot of times their suggestions will make parts of your business better. But it’s important to know when to say no. If you realise that a customer wants something beyond what you offer, if it’s outside the scope of your vision for your business, don’t be afraid to direct them to a competitor that may be better suited to accommodate their needs. Often you’ll be doing yourself a favour and them too in the long run.

We have been conditioned to think that the customer is always right, in actual fact they are not. As stated in the quote at the beginning of this post, quite often they don’t know what they want. How many of us knew we needed a smartphone or tablet before Apple came up with the iPhone and iPad?

It can feel as though the customer holds all the cards especially when starting a new business and every new customer feels like you’ve won the lottery, but remember a business transaction is mutually beneficial,  yes the customer is paying you but you are also offering something of value.

My point is this, have a vision and stay true to it – build the business you want not the one you’ve been railroaded into creating. Don’t let gaining customers cause you to lose sight of your vision and the dream that has been placed in your heart.

So I’ll leave you with this, a beautiful example of a company that’s decided to stay true to it’s vision.

Speak soon,
Katrina

 

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Dreamlining: Turning Future Dreams into Tomorrow’s Goals

Dreamlining

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you’ll know that I’m a big fan of planning and goal setting. So when I came across the idea of Dreamlining in The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss I found it both interesting and useful, and worth sharing with you.

The first step in turning a dream into a reality is to move from abstract goals to specific objectives and the idea of Dreamlining is about doing just that.

In the book Tim Ferris Break’s this process down into 3 key areas:

  • Things you dream of having
  • Things you dream of being
  • Things you dream of doing

I found the process more difficult than I thought, it’s funny how you think you know what you want until you’re asked to specify the dream in detail. Another thing I found difficult was to set goals without limits i.e. current income, circumstances etc. and it’s quite liberating to do so.

I really found the process useful, even though I think about my goals often, the Dreamline template made me think about them in a way that I hadn’t in the past.

Ferriss states that he’s not into long-term goal planning and this is evident throughout the book,  I really like that the template breaks down the goal from 12 months, to 6 months and then to what you can do to accomplish it today and tomorrow. It’s so easy to procrastinate and put off for tomorrow what we can do today and this idea of Dreamlining is all about overcoming that tendency.

What’s also useful is that the template doesn’t just address what you need to do in order to make your dream a reality, but causes you to think about the means you’ll need to do it.

I’m still reading The 4-Hour Work Week and so far I don’t agree with everything that the book promotes but it does have some useful ideas, dreamlining being one of them. If you’re considering starting your own business and relinquishing the 9-5 it’s definitely worth a read.

If you do decide to try the template or read the book I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Speak soon,
Katrina

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Women V Cancer Ride the Night

 

I am so excited about 2014, I’m determined that it’s going to be my best year yet!

And for me that means stepping out of my comfort zone, taking on new challenges and investing my time in meaningful projects that matter.

A couple of days ago I told you about some of the plans I have to take this blog to the next level which I’m really excited about, you can find out more in the post entitled ‘New Year New Goals’.

Today I want to talk to you about another challenge I’m taking on and that’s the Women V Cancer Ride the Night event where I’ll be joining 2000 women to ride 62 miles from Windsor Race cause to central London and back on May 31st 2014.

The bike ride is in support of 3 great charities Breast Cancer Care, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Ovarian Cancer Action all of which provide invaluable support to countless women each year during the most difficult periods of their lives.

In the coming weeks I’ll posting numerous uodates about the work these charities do, in the ‘motivation’ section of this blog.

I’m super excited to be part of this event and have begun training in earnest, joining a Gym for the first time in my life! and I even went out this weekend and bought myself a brand new bike to prepare for the challenge!

By the end of this challenge I hope to have achieved the following goals:

  1. Raised at least £500 for the 3 women’s charities I’ve mentioned
  2. Adopted a much healthier lifestyle including regular exercise
  3. Successfully completed a challenge that stretches me beyond my current comfort zone

In truth we only grow through challenging ourselves, and my goal this year is to grow in more ways than one.

But I need your help to complete this goal, I’m asking that you would consider sponsoring me to complete this challenge by making a donation via my Just Giving page, any amount no matter how small will be greatly appreciated. I have to raise at least £199 by 25th April 2014 and I hope to raise at least £500 by May 31st.

Thank you so much for your support and I look forward to keeping you posted on my progress in the coming weeks and months

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New Year New Goals!

New year, new Goals, Katrina Douglas

Well hello, it’s been a while  :)

Given that it’s the beginning of the year I thought now was the opportune time for us to reconnect.

Well it’s been a busy few months and although it’s been hard work I’ve had some real highlights, including speaking at The Business Show in London for the 2nd time (presenting to Start-ups  on building a successful online presence) working on a couple of TV campaigns and taking 20 odd children ice skating for my sons 10th birthday. I’ve had fun but I have missed blogging, as the saying goes; ‘it’s the simple things’ :)

I have some things in store for you this year that I’m really excited about, so I thought I’d share them with you by way of the following 3 reasons you should continue visiting this blog:

 

  1. More advice
    I’ve got so much stuff to share with you, as you may or may not know I’m a Charted Marketer, I’ve  worked in marketing for 8 yrs and I currently  Head UK Marketing for a very successful global company. I say that not to boast but simply to demonstrate that what I share on this blog is the fruit of experience, hard work and much study and I genuinely believe that the information you’ll find here will be of value to you.  I’m a firm believer that it’s more blessed to give than receive and I intend to give more than ever this year, in more ways than one.

    For starters – I aim to blog every remaining day of this month
    , providing you with tonnes of useful advice from lessons I’ve learnt over the years including why I think advertising and traditional marketing practices are far from dead, why social should not run solo, why I think the most important marketing skills are reading and writing, I’ll also finally finish my blog series ‘the art of marketing warfare’ ( essentially a summary of foundational marketing principles)… and so much more. In fact why not send me a blog request and I’ll write a post just for you!
  2. New services
    This year I’m taking this blog to the next level and if you like what you read and would like one-to-one business advice tailored to your business goals, all you have to do is ask. In fact I’ve decided to do away with the traditional list of services and simply provide exactly what you tell me you need. The reason is; the businesses I really want to work with are freeagents, micro business and non-profits, and in my experience these businesses don’t want cookie cutter marketing services, I’ve worked with a fair few and the work I’ve  done  for every one of them has been significantly different. What I will do in the coming months is provide you with examples by way of case studies to give you a feel for the possibilities, so watch this space for more information. 
  3. Free stuff
    I also hope to provide free – webinars, web chats, free taster coaching sessions and of course free advice!

I’m really excited about this year and hope you are too, I’d love to hear what your plans are for 2014 so feel free to share and as always I welcome your feedback.

Speak soon
Katrina

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Laying plans – the art of marketing warfare pt 1

Marketing Planning

Well we’ve all heard the phrase; if you fail to plan you plan to fail, 100%. If you don’t plan to get somewhere on purpose the chances are, you won’t get there by accident, you’ll most likely end up somewhere you never intended to be.

It’s true that things very rarely go to plan but a marketing plan acts as an anchor to your marketing goals, that keeps you focused on the goals even when the plan goes awry.

A plan is essential in life and business, however, in life it’s normally sufficient to just plan (to map a series of steps to your desired destination) in business it rarely is. Business requires ‘strategic planning’, marketing planning that considers the external environment and likely challenges that will be faced. A plan shows you the way, a strategic plan prepares you for the unexpected along the way.

Sun Tzu put it this way;

The general who wins a battle makes many calculations, the general who loses a battle makes few calculations beforehand, thus do many calculations lead to victory and few calculations to defeat, how much more no calculations at all?

So here’s a few tips to guide your marketing planning:
  1.  Decide where you want to go – no purpose, no plan, so what’s    the goal?
  2. Consider the moral law (not just the legal law)

Plan to take care of your customers and your people. The new economy demands this more than ever before. The rise of the ethical and social consumer means that people pay a premium for brands they respect, trust and look up to. Books like the The Thank You Economy and Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust have highlighted this in recent times, but it’s an age old truth. The Bible puts it this way ‘trust in the Lord and do good, then you will live safely in the land and prosper’ (Psalms 37:3). The most profitable way to do business is to consider people before profits. Put the customer at the heart of your marketing planning.

3.   Know your shape, find your voice

‘Keep it real’ and ‘do you’ as they say. Capitalise on your natural strengths and what you’re good at, then promote your business in your own unique way – Some of the best modern marketers are not trained marketers and if they are they don’t conform to text book marketing models, they are authentic, they spread the word naturally.  Examples include Seth Godin, Sandi Krakowski, Chris Brogan and Gary Vaynerchuk.  I’m a huge fan of these folks, I and many, many others actually take the time to listen to what they have to say and invest in what they have to offer. I look forward to receiving Chris Brogan’s weekly email on a Sunday morning, how many businesses can say that their customers look forward to receiving their emails, on a Sunday at that! Such is the art of effective marketing.

4.   Consider the climate

What external circumstances exist that could help or hinder you? Look at market trends, the economic climate, recent events etc. leverage these opportunities and guard against the threats. Ask questions like;

  • Can you spot an under served niche market?
  • What does the economic climate mean for your business?
  • Is there increased competition?
  • What are current and future market trends that might affect you?

5.  Know the other army (notice I did not say enemy)

    • Where are they stronger than you?
    • What are their unique skills and specialisms?
    • What are your comparative weaknesses and strengths?

The answer to these questions will determine whether your marketing strategy should be offensive or defensive. A defensive strategy may be to focus on a niche market, leverage your expertise and focus on key target customers (e.g. niche retailers like modcloth.com). An offensive strategy could be to go head to head with a key competitor offering the same or similar products (e.g. Supermarkets).

6. Harness Humility

Let the other side boast. Spend your energy focusing on performance and continuous improvement - let your light shine naturally. Formerly it was those with the biggest budgets and brightest advertising campaigns that won, now it’s the brands that are most in touch with the needs of their customers, engage with their customers and offer the best service. If you find your target customers and serve them well, you’ll see how easy marketing becomes, in fact your customers will end up doing most of the marketing for you.

7.    Be disciplined and methodical

Proceed with your marketing planning in an orderly and consistent way, take small steps on a regular basis, don’t try to launch the world’s most amazing marketing campaign in one day. Build your marketing activity over time, plan each step, take the time to learn along the way – prepare, act, review – and again – prepare, act, review.

As always feel free to ask questions or comment below.

Look out for the next instalment early next week entitled ‘Waging War’.

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Entrepreneurs work for others too

So I’ve always had great ambitions of setting up my own marketing consultancy, it was never an if, but, or maybe but quite simply a when.  I’ve had a business plan of my dream business sitting on my bookshelf since before I left university

However, of late my thinking has changed and I’m no longer so sure that self-employment will be the end goal for me, I don’t feel that I’m any less ambitious, driven or entrepreneurial than I used to be, but something’s changed….can’t put my finger on what or when it changed, but it’s definitely changed…

perhaps it’s that I quite like the definite divide between work-life and home-life that seems easier to maintain when you work for someone else’s business rather than your own

perhaps it’s that my notion of success has changed; I used to think that the only way I would truly feel successful would be to work for myself – I no longer feel that way in fact the things that I associate with my success have less and less to do with ‘employment’ with each passing year

perhaps it’s that I’d rather spend my spare time in more philanthropic endeavours than building my own business

perhaps it’s that I’ve realised that there’s more than one route to financial freedom

perhaps it’s that I’ve realised that you can be an entrepreneur, a change maker within a company

and perhaps it’s that I actually quite like working for someone else dare I say it

Entrepreneurs and thought leaders are as much needed in established businesses as they are in start-ups and one-man bands. The nature of business has changed and now I realise that the burning desire I have to effect change, be a thought-leader and expert in my chosen field can be realised within an established organisation. The future of work belongs to entrepreneurs and thought leaders whether you work for yourself or others.

It seems that everyone wants to be an entrepreneur and run their own business these days, which is cool, I haven’t ruled it out myself, but my point is that business success doesn’t necessarily culminate in self-employment and that’s cool too.

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Not just material things, meaningful things…

So I’ve not posted anything in quite a while for various reasons but over the last couple of days I’ve felt compelled to write a post or two.

You probably won’t now this but I turn 30 in less than a month and I feel quite excited about it, I actually feel more comfortable in my skin with each passing year and I quite like the feeling of being a little wiser than I was the year before. Anyway, because of this milestone I began this year thinking about the things that I really want to achieve in life, not just material things but meaningful things. I’ve always been a goal setter but to be honest up until this year most of my goals have been about me; what job I want, what house I want, what car I want and so on, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with such goals, I still have them but I’ve felt a stir in my heart of late towards more meaningful goals.

I recently suffered the loss of someone incredibly dear to me and anyone who has experienced the death of someone close will know that it changes you, it causes you to evaluate your own mortality and the things in life that matter most. Suffice to say much of my thinking this year has been about defining my life’s purpose sowing towards a lasting legacy and not just material goals. In this vein I’ve been seeking projects to get involved with and one crossed my path recently…

A couple of days ago I was listening to the Premier Gospel show ‘what’s in yours’ and the guest was Beth Redman whilst discussing her life and work she mentioned a project she’s involved with called the A21 campaign a campaign that is working towards eliminating human trafficking in the 21st century, I was stunned by some of the facts. Did you know:

  • Human trafficking is the second largest global organised crime today, generating approximately 31.6 billion USD each year. Specifically, trafficking for sexual exploitation generates 27.8 billion USD per year.
  • There are 1.39 million victims of commercial sexual servitude worldwide.
  • Over 25% of sex trafficked victims are trafficked from Southern and Eastern Europe.
  • 90% of victims trafficked into the European Union member states will end up in the sex industry.
  • Tragically, only 1-2% of victims are rescued, and only 1 in 100,000 Europeans involved in trafficking are convicted

Source

These facts are startling and I’ve come to the realisation that we can all live in our comfortable bubbles closing our eyes to such things as though they don’t exist (as I have done) or we can each seek to contribute towards meaningful causes that are bigger than ourselves. It’s true that none of us can achieve much on our own towards eradicating the many evils that exist in our world but neither are we helpless, there are things that we can do, in fact if you’re interested in helping with the A21 campaign here are 21 very simple ways you can help, I believe each of us are capable of doing are part it simply boils down to how much we care.

I’ve been challenged this year to focus more on meaningful goals than material goals, I’m not saying I don’t have material goals because I do, but I’m learning a few valuable life lessons in this change process, and I’m a firm believer that when you experience something good in life it’s good to share, so I’m sharing :).

Blessings,

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Work to live

So it’s that time of the year when I start thinking about holiday destinations and one on my must visit list this year is the beautiful lake Garda in Italy (please excuse the over produced somewhat cheesy marketing video above but it does have some beautiful shots ;). I’ve wanted to visit Italy for a while and it was a toss up between Tuscany and Lake Garda for my first trip, ultimately the thermal baths, spas and lake views won out this time but Tuscany is a must for me also.

Yes the lovely video of Lake Garda is nice to look at but the reason for me writing this post is not just to share the video with you, but to ask a more fundamental question; why do you work anyway? Of course for most of us the most obvious reason is money, but surely it’s got to be about more than that.

I love my work but to be honest I love life more and for me work is not a goal in itself, it’s about the life choices that it affords me. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the routine of what we do and never take the time to look beyond that, of course work has some intrinsic value (satisfaction, monetary reward, recognition, achievement etc.) and it’s an important part of life but surely life’s got to be about more than work.

I really just wanted to take a minute to challenge you to think about the things you really want to achieve and experience in life and let that be your motivation. I believe work should be the means to help get you there not the end in itself.

In a nutshell work to live, don’t live to work.

My next stop is Lake Garda, I want to see as much of this beautiful world as I possibly can. For me travelling is such an important part of life and I view it as an essential part of my children’s education because it broadens our perspective.

So where’s your next stop? what destination are you working towards?

It would be great to hear your thoughts, so feel free to comment below.

For more on lake Garda here’s a cool Pinterest page Lake Garda.

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