Entries by James

Build a mountain of value

Jane the interior designer has just started out, she’s talented and creative and personable and will make any new clients very happy. But Jane only has a Facebook page. Even though she posts to it a few times a week, she finds it very hard to get enquiries. The phone simply doesn’t ring, and if […]

What I Learnt from Bear Grylls About Business

I watched two episodes of Bear Grylls’ latest show yesterday. Bear Grylls is the adventurer who takes celebrities into the wilderness: surviving, camping overnight, and crossing dangerous terrain in order to get to an extraction point before the end of the show. Each episode is a story of fear and personal endurance as the guests […]

Do You Suffer From Marketing Overwhelm?

I bet I can guess one of the top reasons why you’re not doing the marketing you know you should be: you simply feel overwhelmed. How do I know? It’s a common theme when I am speaking with small business owners who are building their businesses online. When they learn about websites, blogging, lead magnets, […]

When bad search results happen to good people

Most people who have a website expect that they will appear in Google if someone is searching for them. And most do appear, if the person searching uses their business name. But what if the searcher doesn’t know your name and instead searches for the service you do? For example they search for “podiatrist in […]

Entrepreneur, redefined

In the late 1980s, when I was young and at school, I remember being asked in class what we wanted to be when we grew up. Among the architects, tradies, scientists and veterinarians, one of my friends said something most surprising: “entrepreneur”. At the time I was barely aware of what this word meant. It […]

Should I put pricing on my website?

“Should I put my prices on my website?” is one of the more practical questions I am asked when speaking with small business owners. My answer really depends on who it is I’m speaking with. 1. Definitive “yes” If you sell a product that people can buy online – whether that is a physical product […]

Who is the hero in your story?

When you tell the story of your brand you are showing people what you care about, who you work with, and the problems that you solve. Who is the hero of this story? It would be easy to think that the hero is you, the solver of problems, the rescuer. But for your audience, the […]

Marketing first

I only took one unit of marketing at formal university; it was an elective I chose back when I did my journalism degree. But that one unit taught me what I still think is one of the most important lessons for any of us in business: marketing comes first. Or at least, it should. True […]

Notes on Poverty

It’s interesting, poverty. And I can say that because my past experience of poverty has largely been limited to seeing it on television commercials and the occasional documentary. But this week I’m in rural Indonesia, visiting projects run by the child sponsorship organisation Compassion. Here, poverty is more than just a theoretical problem to be […]

Air work and ground work

The aeroplane is cruising at 22,000 feet and I’m in the window seat. Far below, I can see towns and roads, and a group of trees. I can make out the highways and rivers crisscrossing the brown land, joining the dots of the cities and bordered on one side by the coast and an endless […]

The star of your story

Some brands focus very much on products. Think of Dyson or John Deere. Other brands are built around a person. Picture Jamie Oliver. The same is true in small business, although you might not see it so explicitly. The coffee in your local cafe is great. Or is it the high-energy conversation of Noel the […]

How to double your client base without selling

Many professional service providers I know have a love/hate relationship with sales. It’s something we know is needed to grow our business, but the process of actually pitching our work and quoting a price for it can feel uncomfortable. I often hear comments from business owners saying “I hate doing sales” or “I don’t want […]

97, 99 or 100

“I’ll tell you what brilliance in advertising is: 99 cents. Somebody thought of that.” – Roger Sterling, Mad Men How often do you see a product ending in 99 cents? It seems so silly when you think about it logically. Like one cent will make you think differently. But it’s common because it works. It […]

Concierge sales

Picture this: it’s my wedding anniversary, and my wife and I are at a nice restaurant. We had the oysters as an entree and a superb main course. A good bottle of red between us. It’s warm, the conversation is flowing, and we’re enjoying the experience (the kids are with a capable babysitter). A waiter […]

Your logo: not as important as you think

The golden arches – everyone knows them, they’re a worldwide phenomenon and one of the most recognisable symbols of our time. As I drive down the highway with my kids, every time we see a McDonald’s sign I’m reminded of the love this logo inspires. Why do we have such a reaction to a curved […]