Why You Are Limiting Your Small Business

It’s difficult to see the picture when you’re in the frame. When you are so focused on your business you don’t see what holds it back. Namely you! When all the decisions are based on your knowledge and experience, you are probably working from the same knowledge you always have. This means that unless you are constantly improving yourself (in terms of business) you are likely to fall into the trap many owners do.

What are your decisions based on and who do you go to for help? The problem with owning a business is that there is very little help available in your immediate circle for most people. Unless you are surrounded by other entrepreneurs, it’s more than likely that you look to help for people who are fall less qualified than you.

The Self Fulfilling Loop

The ability to work in your business and work on your business are two very separate things. You may be the best at working very hard, doing long hours and motivating your staff, if you have any. But this doesn’t translate to growing your business. Growing your business is something different. It takes a whole new skill set.

If you’re stuck in the process of being a ‘worker’ in your business, you’re not moving your business forwards. You must step out of the roles which worked when you were an employee. Things which make a good employee are: turning up on time, working hard, delivering to deadlines and thinking of ways to achieve the maximum output for your boss.

Things which make a good business owner are entirely different. Knowing how to grow your business is about marketing. You need a whole new skill set and new ways of thinking in order to do this.

The Skill Set Of Online Marketing

Online marketing is vital to grow your business. Whatever kind of business you have, you need some kind of marketing engine driving it forwards. With new technology comes a new type of marketing. Before the internet there was traditional advertising: yellow pages, newspapers, flyers, billboards, television and radio.

Online marketing is a fantastic opportunity for business owners. But with it comes a few problems. The main one is not just learning the skills to create online advertising, but rather our mindset, or more importantly our industrial age thinking.

Industrial Age Thinking

We have been brought up with a lot of baggage. Our minds hold ideas which our forefathers embodied in their lives. Many of us are limited by old thinking patterns which no longer serve us. This is true in many areas of our lives but none so much as with growing a business using online marketing.

A poverty mindset always thinks of reasons to cut back and avoid spending. It is based on a presupposition that ‘there is never enough’ – a self fulfilling prophecy! Of course this is often well founded based on the past. But as a business owner this can be your biggest limiting factor to forward growth.

If our very thinking is based on our past and what it has taught us in terms of our income, we hold back and tend to be careful with our money. This is for good reason of course. But with online marketing your long term plan should be to be spending more and more on advertising, not less and less. This is a major roadblock to business growth.

Gently Does It

I’m not saying you should spend all your cash on an online advert, just to see how it goes. Far from it. You can start an online advertising campaign for very little daily expenditure. Set your budget as low as you like. That’s one of the benefits of online advertising. One of the other major benefits is the ability to test and measure each of your adverts.

By testing and measuring the response of your adverts, you can determine, very accurately, how effective they are in making you a profit. However this should be based on your return on investment, not instant return. Think about the worth of a customer over the years of your business. How much is a customer worth? Not a sale, but a customer?

Looking at the long term benefit of a happy customer who buys from you again and again can give you a different perspective on your advertising costs. Write down a number which reflects the cash value of a long term, loyal customer. Now match that against what you were prepared to spend on your advertising.

Testing and Measuring – The Power Of Pay Per Click

Pay per click advertising is an amazing form of advertising and available to any business owner. However, I recently spoke to a business owner who claimed it was a waste of money, despite other people in his business niche using it. Perhaps, he thought that they were about to discover what he already “knew”!

Most people start an advertising campaign on pay per click, lose money and decide it doesn’t work. But this is a mistake. The real power lies in the ability to test and measure your paid advertising. There are many variables with pay per click. You can target people very specifically by their keywords using Google AdWords advertising. You can also target by location – which is ideal for a local business. By testing and measuring the responses of different target audiences, with varying keywords, landing pages and advert content, you can eventually determine the most profitable advert for your business.

Once you have discovered a way to spend half of what you stand to get back, you are in a very strong position to increase your daily expenditure and scale up. This is how to grow your business. By adding other paid advertising methods to your growing ‘portfolio’ and testing and measuring each one over time for maximum efficiency, you can scale up your business for maximum growth.

Depending on your business model, it is also possible to lose money initially on advertising, and make it back over the long term for the customers you have literally “bought”.

Fear, Greed and Panic

Obviously you should be careful enough to test and measure advertising before scaling your budget up. Paid advertising can consume your capital as fast as you allow it to! Be very careful in the early stages to test and measure every aspect of your advertising. Don’t scale too quickly but also you can’t be afraid to spend money first.

Only spend money you are prepared to lose initially. You might lose money in the short term. But the long term gain of having a profitable advertising campaign which can be left running is worth the initial loss. The main job is testing and measuring until you have a campaign which is profitable. After this there is very little to do. Simply leave your campaign running at a comfortable cost and slowly increase it over time.

Equally don’t just run a campaign, get a profitable result, and then panic and turn it off. Your business will just fall back to your comfort levels again. Look for the long term, keep testing and measuring and expect to pay out first before you see a return.

Travel Tips for Avoiding Biting Beasties

Springtime and the insects are beginning to bite. A mosquito bite in the tropics could result in any number of diseases from malaria to dengue fever. Luckily a similar bite in Europe usually results in nothing more serious than an irritating, itchy spot. Some people, however, can produce a strong allergic reaction to insect bites and end up with very inflamed and swollen wounds. Bites can easily become infected especially if you can’t resist the urge to scratch. Some people seem to be especially attractive to biting insects- the exact reasons this are still not completely clear.

Scientists have identified a number of different cues which attract mosquitoes- including body heat, the carbon dioxide you breath out and even the odour of your feet! If you are prone to insect bites it’s worth taking some anti-histamine tablets with you, tablets tend to be more effective than anti-histamine creams at reducing the allergic reaction. Hydrocortisone creams may help reduce inflammation and swelling whilst calamine lotion, tea tree oil and tiger balm can help calm local irritation.

It’s not just mosquitoes which can give you a nasty bite- other insects such as sand-flies, midges and black-flies can also leave you scratching! Many insects are more likely to bite at dusk and dawn time- so it’s a good idea to be prepared whilst sitting outside eating your evening meal. Take an effective repellent with you and apply to exposed skin. DEET (diethyltoluamide) based repellents are considered to provide effective and long lasting protection, although they are not without some problems. A small number of people have reported severe reactions with the chemical and many products are not suitable for young children. DEET can also damage synthetic materials and plastics so be careful not to spill it near your sunglasses or camera. Cotton ankle and wrist bands impregnated with DEET have been shown to be a very effective means of reducing insect bites. For a natural alternative use products derived from lemon eucalyptus which have been shown in laboratory and field trials to provide a comparable level of protection to DEET repellents. Unfortunately, there is no clinical evidence that eating garlic or taking vitamin B12 makes you less attractive to biting insects.

Hard ticks are a particular problem and are one of the only European arthropods to transmit diseases. These 8-legged little creatures often dwell on grass/undergrowth in woodland clearings and attach themselves to passing animals and humans in order to take a blood meal. In the process of feeding they can transmit a number of diseases including tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease.

Tick-borne encephalitis can lead to headaches and fever and in more severe cases can result in upto 10% of people dying or suffering long term disability. Around 11,000 cases of the disease are reported each year in Russia whilst 3,000 cases are reported in temperate parts of Europe. Many countries such as Austria and Germany have instigated successful immunisation campaigns which have drastically reduced the number of cases. A recent study has estimated that there are 60 ‘travel-related’ cases of tick-borne encephalitis reported each year in tourists visiting Austria.

Travellers planning to go walking or camping in affected areas during the spring and summer months are often asked to consider immunisation (which is now available in the UK). It’s a good idea to be aware of the potential of infection and take specific precautions to minimise the risk. Wear effective repellents on exposed skin whilst out walking in woodland areas and tuck trousers into socks (not a fashion statement but effective!). Check yourself each day for attached ticks, they tend to like warm nooks such as behind ear and around groins. The longer they are attached the greater the risk that they can transmit an infection so remove them with tweezers or a tick hook. They can often be difficult to remove, it is best to grip them firmly as close to skin as possible. Be careful that all the mouthparts have been removed as the site can become infected. If you do find a tick attached don’t be too alarmed- only a small percentage are infected with any diseases.

Good luck and lets hope the bugs don’t bite too much this year!

Europe Travel Tips

A trip to Europe is a dream holiday for most tourists. The most unique feature of a European trip is how you can encounter different cultures by just travelling a few hours. Every European country is representation of the world’s rich history and culture. The profound difference between each country is the most enjoyable highlight of the continent. To put together a memorable trip make sure you have a few tips in place.

Prioritize your choices

Europe, as much as it is extravagant, can be overwhelming. Your choice of countries you want to visit depends on the kind of person you are and what you enjoy the most. Do not go by the notion to cover all the famous spots such as the Eiffel Tower, The Colosseum or the London Eye. Think about the kind of trip you would like to offer yourself and your family. If you are a lover of art and architecture choose to treat yourself with the Greek and Roman experiences. If you would like to enjoy some adventure sport or enjoy the snowfall visit the Alps. Either ways Europe is as splendid as you can imagine.

Planning your trip

The first hiatus people face before travelling is the visa and availability of flights. Book your flights and hotels rooms much before you intend to travel. For travelling between the European nations roadways and railways may turn out to be cheaper.

Do some research

Before you land at your destination it is always a good idea to do some research. Check for the weather conditions, any kind of civil unrest and seasonal festivals. Figure out a general picture about the price list of restaurants and basic commodities. This might help you compare prices and pick out the best one for you. Read about the history of the places you are about to visit. This makes your journey more interesting.

Credit cards and currency

Some tourists complain about theft experiences while visiting Europe. To be on the safer side, split the cash you are carrying amongst your family members. Restrict the use of credit and make sure it is handled in all safety. Check all your belongings wherever you are travelling and be alert while using public transport.

Things to carry

Prepare a general checklist of the items you need to carry to Europe. Converter pins, warm clothing and travelers cheques are some essentials that you cannot afford to leave behind. While packing make sure you are adhering to regulations of your airlines and European Quarantine.

EHIC Medical Cards and Tips for Travelling in Europe on Holiday

When going on holiday there are many things which you have to consider, but one of them which can at times be overlooked is the right documentation, and it can also be the difference between making things easier or have problems if anything unfortunate were to happen while you were on holiday in Europe.

Within Europe all documentation is required to be carried at all times, which includes your passport and medical cards as well as a drivers license if you have one. Which when asking for identification at tills or checkouts most cashiers will accept the drivers license for the proof of identity when paying by debit or credit card.

Although, despite the rule if you were to misplace your bag or purse, or worse it were to get stolen or taken from you, it does mean the documents would also be lost. That is why it is advisable to have a copy of those documents somewhere safe and separate from your actual documents, such as a hotel safe. Another option is to leave an additional copy of your documents with family, so if for some reason you needed help from the police or the Foreign Embassy or needed medical attention, these can be accessed easily.

When going away for a holiday in France, or any other place within Europe such as Germany, Spain etc then one thing you should check you have up to date is a health card. Formally known as the E111, this is now known as the EHIC card.

EHIC stands for European Health Insurance Card and is free to obtain, allowing you to obtain free or reduced cost health care in the event you have a need for medical care while in a country within the European Union, but it also covers you in Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

If you are a resident within the UK you can easily obtain one for free if you are 16 plus, although if you wish to help a child get a EHIC card the parents would have to apply for them prior.

It is recommended to keep both the EHIC card and the passport together so they do not get separated or lost, or even forgotten while rushing around to get away on holiday. Although if you were to forget it you can apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate, PRC for short, to cover you at the place you are being treated which would be directly posted there.

Another thing you can always invest in is travel insurance, which even if you have a bag stolen you can be covered. Or if worse happens and your luggage goes missing, there are prolonged delays or even if the company goes bust, it gives you some compensation instead of being left stranded.

Although, if you are going to be driving in France it is a good idea to think of Car Breakdown Cover, and again having copies of all documentation placed in a safe place, including things such as the log book can be a great peace of mind. But also knowing things such as the Emergency number for Europe, which is 112, can be a great help while on holiday if it was needed.

One thing which is not always remembered to bring is cash. When travelling over Europe most countries use the currency Euros now, and it is essential if you want to use some shops, visit markets or sometimes if needed to pay for some toll routes while driving through.

There are also public toilets which can be found throughout France which are dotted around even more so in some of the major cities like Paris, and some of these need about 20 to 50 cents to enter.

There are many ways to obtain cash, such as at an exchange desk at an airport, on a ferry or even a post office local to yourself. Although it is to be remembered that the exchange rate can change a lot from some days to the next, so it is best to check prior to see if you can get the best exchange rate for your money.

More importantly, when you do have the cash, remember not to leave it all in one place and to divide it up between those who are travelling or separate it, so that if the worst happened and you got pick pocketed or you simply lost your wallet you will still have some money, which is better than nothing.

One more thing to remember is to have credit, or debit card company numbers to hand, so again, in the worst case scenario that they get stolen or lost, you can cancel them by phoning up the company so nothing on the card is placed or ordered wrongly.

One more thing which most people will not leave without is their mobile phone, or cell phone if you prefer. Although it is to be remembered that you have to check prior that all phones are enabled for international calling, and when using a Pay As You Go, or a contract, prices can fluctuate when abroad. Numbers for your service provider can always be helpful as if you misplace or lose your phone you can cancel it so that you do not end up with an extensive and scary phone bill at the end, if it were to be abused.

On a slightly lighter note, an easy way to get help, or know your way around is to take pictures of everything from a taxi, a toilet or even a cash point so if you want directions and do not know the foreign language you can show a person a picture of where you want to get to and get directions even past the language barrier.

But in general if you are going on holiday it is always best to be prepared so that you can enjoy your break away in the best way possible whether it be a holiday in Paris, France, Germany, Spain or anywhere else you wish to head to.