What happened when I switched my Instagram profile back to personal

You hear OH so much about the benefits of being on Instagram for business. Equally though, you hear a lot of Instagram experts (I’m looking at you Jasmine Starr) who suggest sticking to a personal instagram profile is better for engagement and cut-through.

So, who’s right?

I decided to experiment to see for myself if being a “business” on Instagram is, well, good for business.

THE EXPERIMENT

I decided to switch my business profile at @mydailybusinesscoach from its current “business” profile to “personal” for one week. I ran this experiment Wednesday to Wednesday as I tend to have bots that follow (then drop me) every Monday. It also meant it wasn’t influenced by having two Saturdays or Sundays in the mix - times when I find lower engagement overall.

WHAT I THOUGHT WOULD HAPPEN

To be honest, switching was something I had to build myself up to do (aka blasting this song in my office). There’s SO much out there to tell you the opposite and I worried that I’d suddenly lose all engagement, my loyal biz friends would cease to see my content and, most of all, that once I switched I wouldn’t be able to get back to business and be stuck with no Instagram Insights or metrics forever…wahhh…

As far as my

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED

Why we all need to be "reclaiming my time"

Here's a question for you: If you could get an extra hour in each work day, how would you use it? It doesn’t sound like much, but over time an hour a day adds up to almost an extra work day each week and an extra month of 8-hour work days over the course of a year.

So, if you had an extra month each year to work on your biz, what impact would it have? Would you finally have time to write that eCourse? Create a succession plan and plot dedicated 1:1 catch ups with your staff? Work on your exit strategy and meet with potential buyers for your biz? Take a two-week break to work “on” your biz (rather than always “in” it)? Finally get your tax done and meet with that financial advisor? Or, simply have time to meditate and factor in a lunchtime walk?

It's exciting to consider the possibilities isn’t it? Time is the one thing we all feel we don’t have enough of and yet...we just give it away ALL the time.

The main ways we do this? By:

  • allowing other people's to-do lists to trump our own

  • failing to plan our biz content & marketing so it becomes chaotic and ad-hoc

  • losing focus on the biz goals that matter most

  • refusing to streamline processes

Of course, these aren’t the only ways but they are the ones I've found most common after teaching hundreds of small biz owners and working with brands — big & small — over the last two decades.

Here’s three seemingly small things that add up to serious time savers:

1. Focus on what matters

I ask all of my clients to list the top three goals they have for the next 12 months. It may seem small, but having just three goals ensures focus. Long lists of goals do nothing but set you up for failure and make you prone to fall for every "shiny new biz thing" that comes along. I suggest clients keep their three goals on a post-it on their laptop, on their fridge or mirror or even in their wallet. Not only do their goals stay front and centre, my clients can quickly assess opportunities that arise against these goals and say "yes" only when it aligns with one or more of them.

2. Reduce the small talk

If you haven't seen the Maxine Waters video that went viral last August, check it out here (thanks MD for sharing it with me!). In it, the US politician is seen asking a man to hurry it up with his answers, with Waters stating "reclaiming my time!" each time the man begins to waffle on. In my first year of biz, I gave away WAYYY too much time meeting people who wanted to "pick my brain" but didn't actually want to pay for it. I'd spend time commuting, pay for parking and coffees and then basically give away info on their biz for an hour or two. Now, I ask anyone who gets in touch to book a 15-min call with me via the Calendly tool. I conduct these calls from my home office (rather than driving to meet people) and I can quickly assess whether this biz and I are a good fit to work together. I also use Google Forms to create questionnaires for new clients, so I get as much info as possible up front, and I've moved many of my meetings to Zoom rather than face-to-face. Consider the meetings you have and look at how they could be reduced. Can a 1-hour session become a 10-min standup? Does every meeting require face-to-face or can things be done remotely to save time?

3. Revise, rather than repeat

Do you find yourself doing the same thing over and over, such as writing a response email that could be automated, or typing out hashtags for each post? Look at the tasks you regularly do and ask if any of these be automated. In my first year of business I created a different proposal for each person who contacted me. While I learned a LOT about using Canva it just wasn't productive. I now have three proposal templates in Canva I can simply tweak depending on what a client needs. I also use the nifty shortcut tool on my iPhone to store banks of hashtags for each social post (thanks TH for this one!). That way I can just type one word and click 'enter' to have up to 30 hashtags appear. If you have an iPhone simply go into settings > general > keyboard > text replacement (follow the instructions here). This also works well for responses to FAQs on social, super long URLs you type often or even automating an email reply.

I’ve been reminded way too often in the last two years of how short life can be. Most of us started a biz to get more time back yet can find ourselves feeling like we have less time than ever. By following the tips above I hope you’re able to reclaim some of your own time and feel more confident that you can, and will, reach your biz goals.


10 Podcasts for Small Business Owners

One of my all-time favourite things to do is binge on podcasts. I listen to them while driving, walking and cooking. On the days I work at home, I alternate between podcasts and Focus @ Will and have discovered so much about business, marketing and, just, life in general through listening.

I remember working on marketing and content strategy at Audible in London in 2012 and we were trying to figure out how to get the everyday person to switch from reading books to listening to them. Back then, audio books were still seen as something "old people" or "academics" bought, not the general public. Little did we know just how quickly mindset shifts would happen in the coming years. Today, something like a quarter of Americans listen to podcasts monthly (in Australia it's around 17% (2017)).  

I think one of the best things about podcasts is the opportunity to listen to another person's story of struggle and success, especially in relation to starting and growing creative businesses. If you're feeling a little stressed with the end-of-year activity or need a dose of inspiration while planning out 2019, check out ten of my fave business-related podcasts below (I say 'fave' not 'top' as it's always changing!). 

1. How I Built This 

This is hosted by Guy Raz at NPR (think: Serial) and delves into how some of the biggest brands got started. My fave eps so far are his interviews with Howard Schultz (Starbucks), Suroosh Alvi (VICE) and Sara Blakely (Spanx). Super inspiring. 

2. Work in Progress 

A great podcast from Slack, all about the relationship between people and their careers, from the way work can define their identity through to the connections and inspiration they find within it. A good one to remind us about the power work has to change lives. 

3. Marketing School

I've followed Neil Patel online for ages, but a good friend told me about his podcast with Eric Siu. Delivered daily, it's about 4-5 mins on one specific marketing topic such as getting clients on LinkedIn or the best backlink tools. A good one to binge on as eps are so short. 

4. Masters of Scale

Hosted by Reid Hoffman (co-founder, LinkedIn), this podcast covers everything from leadership and management through to failure and rejection. It can feel a little jumpy at times as it switches from interviews to scripted and background noise, but overall worth a listen.

5. Qantas Talking Business with Alan Kohler

Part of the business channel onboard Qantas flights, Alan Kohler's show has long been a fave for business owners in Australia. Each show is only about 15 minutes long and Kohler is great at getting to the core of how people have achieved success. 

6. The Marie Forleo Podcast

I've been a fan of Marie for years, having watched probably 98% of her famous "Marie TV" episodes. She's taken a lot of the videos she's done and used the audio for a new podcast (#repurposingcontent woot woot). Light-hearted chats with creative business owners including Brene Brown, Tim Ferris and Elizabeth Gilbert.

7. Brand Newsroom 

At first I wasn't a fan of this show, but this podcast has definitely grown on me. Produced in Australia (but featuring hosts from AU, UK and US) it's all about marketing, PR and content. Check out the special eps live from Content Marketing World 2017. 

8. Making Oprah

I can't even count how many people have recommended this podcast to me and I finally got around to listening to it recently. If you love Oprah (and who doesn't?) this is a great story about her journey to become one of the most recognised brands on the planet. 

9. Girlboss Newsroom

Okay, so you'll need to skip the first 10 minutes of many episodes as Sophia Amoruso spends ages selling stuff (note to podcasters: please find a better way to include advertiser's info!), but there's some good stuff in her interviews with people like Leandra Medine (Man Repellar) and Lisa Price (Carol's Daughter). 

10. On Being

If you've been following me @mydailybusinesscoach or getting this email since I began, you'll know how much I love Krista Tippett and her podcast, On Being. While not specifically related to business, she speaks with leaders about how to build communities and maintain focus on what's most important in life, regardless of obstacles. 

If you have a podcast you LOVE, please let me know via email or DM me on IG; I'm always eager to add to my collection. 


Does the 80:20 Rule actually work?

Hands up who's read Tim Ferriss' The 4-Hour Work Week? When the book first came out I was at Audible in London, working closely with the book team at Amazon (Audible's parent company). The 4-Hour Work Week was "the" entrepreneur / startup book to read (or listen to... #heyaudiblefans) so I did it, I listened. But it wasn't until a few years later, once I was back home in Melbourne and another friend mentioned it, that I took the time to re-read the whole thing. One of the biggest takeaways for me? The 80/20 rule

Now, Ferriss wasn't the first to come up with this (an Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto did, and Richard Koch wrote a book about it 12 years before Ferriss), but he brought it to my attention and it's now something I use in my business. The basic idea is that 20% of your output results in 80% of your profit / results. On the flip side, we often spend 80% of our time on things that only generate 20% of results (not just in business, but in all areas of our life). By reviewing where we spend our time and what results from that (positive and negative) we become more productive and find more efficient solutions to business problems. 

So, what does this look like?

For people in retail, this may look like swapping piece-meal advertising for one awesome trade show. For service-based businesses, it may be creating a workshop or online video series that takes effort up front, but can be replicated again and again with minimal input. For a digital or PR agency, it may be refining your services to focus on a few areas and industries, as opposed to serving a variety and having to spend time learning about each one, each time. 

How do I start implementing the 80/20 rule?

The first thing to do is understand where your time is going. If you missed my goal setting email a few weeks ago, download this Weekly Planner to start tracking your time. If you're someone who uses a calendar/diary religiously, you may want to go back over the last month and review which meetings, events and activities you took part in and what the result was. You may wish to track your time via an "80/20 audit" on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. 

Next, link your activity to outcomes. For example, if you spent four hours on Tuesday creating social media posts for the month, do you know what benefit that brings your business? If you spent three hours creating a pitch document for 40 new stockists, what is the direct result? Are there sections of time you're wasting on ad-hoc, unplanned and non-results-driving activity?

Finally, decide if you want to start, stop or keep activities. For example, you may spend a lot of time on email marketing but you're not targeting the right audience and, consequently, not getting any sales/cut-through. You may want to start outsourcing this (with clear KPIs for your contractor). You may realise that when you collaborate on a product, you sell way more stock overall, so you may wish to keep this and increase the frequency of collections. You may be spending hours on face-to-face initial (unpaid) consultations that don't equate to sign-ups, so you might stop that and start conducting initial chats via Skype or Zoom. This Start, Stop, Keep template will help with this step.


Once you have completed the steps above, you'll start to see where the top 80% of your business is coming from and how you can replicate more of that and reduce time on activities that bring little or no result. To quote Ferriss, the point of the 80/20 audit is to, "focus on being productive, instead of busy". 

I'm not going to lie. This whole exercise may be tedious and uncomfortable to begin with; it can often uncover activities or people that are sucking your time, and it can be difficult to confront that reality and say goodbye to clients / staff. But, it can also bring so much clarity on how you spend your days and what you want most from your business — that, for me, is well worth any initial uneasiness.



10 Things I wish I'd known before starting a business

Did you know that I'm a writer #ontheside? Yep, in addition to business coaching & consulting I’ve been a published writer since 2001. In almost every feature interview I’ve conducted I ask this one question of the interviewee: If you could know then, what you know now, what would you tell yourself?

Well, the tables were turned yesterday when one of the awesome students at my latest Loving Mondays workshop, Candice, asked me. "Fiona, what lessons have you learned that you wish you'd known before you started?"


I felt the energy in the room shift; everyone was waiting for the answer. On the drive back to Warrandyte last night, I started thinking over my answer and the lessons I have learned. I thought I'd share today 10 of the most valuable, in case there's one that may help you — no matter where you are in your business journey:

1. Be you, everyone else is taken

Super #real here. When I first commenced business I let fear about not looking a certain way or dressing a certain way get to me. I got caught up in thinking I needed to be someone different — more polished perhaps — to who I am. You know what? None of that stuff matters when you know who your audience is and what they most need. I dress how I want to (bright nails included) and to date it's never been an issue. If I could tell anyone starting out one thing it would be this: shift your focus from how you will look / appear / perform to what your client / customer most needs. Good business is about helping people, not hyping your own self-image.

2. There's enough for everyone 

There are a million people doing what I do but if I stopped to worry about that and lived in a constant state of scarcity, chances are I wouldn't be here now. Instead of worrying about what others in my industry are doing, I try to focus on solving problems for my clients. Very few ideas are original these days, so focus on doing the best job you possibly can for the customers / clients in your life and let others tend to theirs.

3. You don't need to be on every social platform 

I see so many small biz owners overwhelmed by content these days. One of the biggest problems is that they've been told they need to be on every social platform. I ran @mydailybusinesscoach solely on Instagram until I felt I had the time to add a Pinterest account. I've just created a new FB group wherein I'll post articles and links to new tools, podcast eps or apps I like. I believe it's better to invest in one platform and do it well than to do a mediocre job across multiple. 

4. Craft your one-line message

In my first few months in biz, a friend introduced me to someone at an event as a "copywriter". I knew then and there I had failed in letting people know what I actually did (I never write copy these days unless it's as a magazine contributor). Instead of being able to succinctly inform anyone who asked what I did, I'd faff about saying I do this, but also this and sometimes that. Looking back, I was possibly worried I wouldn't get work, but I was also falling into that "if you confuse, you'll lose" concept Donald Miller talks about. Now, I have it down to a quick one-line answer, using this simple formula:

 I + help (who you help) + with  (what you do) + so that they can (how you achieve results for your audience).

Try it. 

5. Get your money upfront

It took me 8 months to learn this one, but it's now a stock standard part of my biz. I will invoice 50% of my fee upfront before any work is started and 50% upon completion. I make this super clear from the get-go and it's never been an issue for clients. If you're running a product-based biz you might consider taking pre-orders and/or adding subscription services to your offerings to help keep cash flow moving in the right direction. 

6. Process = Less Stress

If I find myself doing the same thing more than a few times, I'll look at creating a process and, if need be, templates to help streamline things. For example, instead of going back and forth a million times to set up an initial coaching call or consult, I have an email template I'll tweak that leads people to a Calendly page so they can book in a session. I then have a templated questionnaire I'll send potential clients (again, tweaked slightly for each person). While this has meant investing a bit of time up front, it's saved me HOURS in the long-run. 

7. Invest in help 

I have recently hired my first employee (yay!) and to say it's helped is a HUGE understatement. I have also invested in a book keeper. I held off on both, worrying about the cost but I wish I'd done it sooner. Time is precious (both financially and emotionally). If you can afford it, I'd suggest you look at investing in help, so that you can get back to doing what you do best. 

8. Build an audience before you begin

I started building my email list and social following well before I knew what services My Daily Business Coach would offer. As I told the workshop crew yesterday, you don't need to be selling to start building your community. By doing this you not only have an actual audience to sell to once you do launch a product or service, but you also have a ready-made focus group to figure out if what you're offering is actually something people need.


9. Vent - outside the home!

No business runs smoothly 100% of the time and no partner wants to hear about your problems 100% of the time. I STRONGLY suggest that anyone starting a biz (or in one now) cultivates their bounce-off crew as soon as they can. What is a bounce-off crew? Well, it's basically having people you can vent to, bounce business ideas around with and ask for advice (or encouragement!) on things like pricing, pitching, platforms and people management. While businesses coaches like me can be great (haha!) nothing beats having likeminded people you can meet with every month (even over Skype) to talk all things business. I am fortunate to have a number of fellow biz women in my life (you know who you are!) and it's not only been great for work, but it also means I don't put EVERYTHING onto my husband (although he does hear a LOT! Thanks JR). 

10. Experience is your greatest teacher

No amount of reading books or watching YouTube videos about a topic will teach you as much as actually just doing it. While I'm all for preparing and planning, there's only so much of that you can do before you just have to take a leap and hope for the best. I've run close to 40 workshops. I can't even imagine how lacking the first few were, but I couldn't run ANY today if I hadn't started somewhere. If there's something you want to do in your biz, ask yourself what is REALLY holding you back? Chances are it's ego rather than ability to execute.


The above is not a finite list of the biz lessons I've learned. I am in a constant state of learning and I genuinely believe every person and situation has something to teach us (if we're open to it). If you run your own biz, I'd love to know what you would go back and tell yourself? Email me or DM me on IG


How well do you know yourself?

Let me tell you a story. A few years ago a good friend (and fellow biz owner) and I decided to collaborate on a project. We both worked hard on this, but at the end of the project we both felt the other person hadn't done exactly what we had expected of them. You can imagine, being friends, this was a slightly #awks situation, but instead of shoving it under an imaginary carpet, we chose to confront it over breakfast in a city cafe.

As awkward as it was, as we both divulged our opinion on what had happened, we realised just how different we are in terms of the way we approach, analyse and review situations. While we have great respect for one another, we approach things differently due to our personalities. My friend was a ENTP and I at the time was an INFJ (I recently re-did the test and was surprised it's now showing me as ENFJ). What are these acronyms? They're identifiers of different personality traits that can explain why one person may think an action is completely reasonable, and another thinks it's anything but.

As much as we may think everyone should think like we do (because it's the "right way" isn't it?!?) the reality is it takes different strokes to move the world. Our personalities, our values, our education and the way we are raised all have a huge impact on what we expect within a relationship (including a business one).  So, how do you figure this stuff out BEFORE you collaborate with someone?It starts by taking some time to understand yourself. Do you know what you value? Could you list the top three values you live life by in 10 seconds? If not, try downloading this free values list, circling the top 10, then narrowing this down to your top three.


Next, spend 15 minutes taking a personality test. The personality types above are taken from the 16 Personalities test which has draws its inspiration from both Carl Gustuv Jung's theory of psychological types, as well as Katharine Cooks-Briggs' co-authored Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. But regardless of which tool you use Ninez— 16 Personalities, Myers-Briggs or the most popular at the moment, the Enneagram — taking some time to consider what you value and what type of personality you possess is crucial for understanding how you best work alongside your staff, consultants and collaborators, as well as who may be a great fit for future partnerships.


To quote one of my fave songs from the 1990s, 'if everybody looked the same we'd get tired of looking at each other'. Likewise, if everyone operated according to the values you believe to be true or had the exact same personality type, things would quickly get stale and boring. My friend and I may have different personality types, but by acknowledging that we have been able to create a solid partnership for working that complements each other's traits and leaves us both feeling fulfilled.