This month Zestworks coach Rasheed has lots to celebrate: The launch of his new self development website Evolved Heart (which is packed full of free tips and videos) and his new book for new and established sole traders and small business owners: Soul Trader Putting the Heart Back into Your Business
So to mark these special occasions Rasheed is running a competition on Evolved Heart’s new FaceBook page in which you can win free coaching …and free coach yourself prizes.
* 1st prize: 5 hours of free coaching with me, Rasheed, worth over £500
+ a copy of Rasheed’s Become who you are – coach yourself video worth £97
+ a copy of Become who you are semi meditative talk worth £6.99
* 10 runners up: will all win Rasheed’s Become who you are coach yourself video and the Become who you are semi meditative talk.
Check out the video below to find out more about the prizes on offer. You’ve got to be in it to win it as they say and to do that all you need to do is visit Evolved Heart’s Facebook page,click the like button and you’re away. Full terms and conditions can be see on the page. Hurry the competition ends at the end October.
Published: 210 days ago
Getting the best out of your website – and getting a website to start with – is a big issue for pretty much any business owner or self employed person. Someone who know a thing or two about websites is Zestworks very own, Suzanne Whitby, a who runs her own website design and branding agency Future Makers. Here are her top tips.
Getting your first (or your tenth) website in place
At Future Makers we work with a range of new and established business owners to help them build their website, develop their brand and boost their impact on the internet. Essentially what they all have in common is the wish or need to gain a presence, sell more, reach more people or be more effective with their sales and marketing.
When it comes to website, there are a number of things to consider before getting going. You can of course choose to dive straight in without any real thought, but you risk paying a lot of money for something that doesn’t do what you want it do. Best case scenario: you can live with your mistake. Worst case scenario: you have to start again.
Let’s avoid that, shall we?
Here are our top ten (plus one extra!) things you should think about before getting started.
1. You and Your Business
Before doing anything else, you need to be crystal clear about your business: who are you, what do you do, what are your key differentiators, what are your values, what qualities and keywords come to mind when you think about your business.
Why? If you aren’t clear about your business, then your website designer can’t design something that aptly represents who you are.
Why are you in the market for a website? You need to think about this so that you can articulate your thoughts to your web designer or creative team. One or two sentences is all that’s needed here.
Why? This allows your web designer to gain an understand of where you’re coming from. Maybe you just want a couple of informational pages; maybe you intend to start an empire selling T-shirts; perhaps you want to start a lively social network along the lines of Facebook. You web expert will then be able to keep your purpose in mind when looking at your brief, and should be able to point out ideas and suggestions and any potential risks as they go along.
Who are you creating trying to reach with your website? Be as specific as possible. For example, if you are an acupuncture, you may say:
“I help anyone who is ill and who has been unsuccessful with traditional medical solutions”
It would be better, however, to say something like:
“I help women between the ages of 25 and 60 who are experiencing life changes treat a range of illnesses with accupuncture. These women are financially independent, well-educated and disillusioned with traditional medicine. I have a particular passion for pregnant women, women suffering from post-natal depression and women going through the menopause.”
Why: This helps you hone in on your core audience, and allows you to speak to them specifically through your content. From your web designer’s perspective, this information allows them to think about how your demographic might use the website and make relevant suggestions AND is invaluable in considering the look-and-feel and design – a site that targets hip, young men in their 20′s is going to look radically different to a site that targets 60+ individuals looking for insurance, for example!
Take a good look online and take a critical look at other websites, especially those in who are in a similar field to you. See what they are doing, try to understand why – often, if it’s working across the industry, it’s likely to work for you (unless you’re radically different!).
Look at websites for businesses who aren’t in your industry too and gather ideas of functionality that you like. For example, you might notice that one of your competitors has images on the home page that change every few seconds and you want to do the same.
Why? This will help you work out what content and functionality you may need and may also be helpful in explaining what you want. Instead of trying to describe what you’ve see, you can simply tell your designer that you want to have a rotating main image that works in a similar way to website XXX.
Ideally, you’ve already worked with a copywriter and have a clear idea of the content you want to include on your website. In reality, most people choose to write their content themselves (although I always recommend investing in time with our copywriter, even if it’s only an hour or two, in order to give you a clear idea of content needs and how people will engage with your content).
Whatever you choose to do, you should have a list of pages / content that you want on your site, with a short description of each page. For example, a simple brochure site may have:
• Home: short introduction to my business; a client testimonial; latest news
• Services: 2-3 paragraphs with bullets listing services; client testimonials; link to contact form
• News: an area with industry news (added weekly)
• About: an overview of the business with a short biography of the owner
• Contact: contact information with an online contact form; Twitter feed; link to LinkedIn
Why? This helps your web designer get an understanding of both the number of pages you need as well as any extra functionality you need so that they can make suggestions as to approach.
You may not know the answer to this in techie-speak, but be clear about things that you want to be able to do and things that you want visitors to be able to do on the site.
• Do you need to be able to update your site yourself or do you want your web team to manage that?
• Do you need a blog (and can you commit to writing regularly)?
• Do you use social media and should it be integrated with your site?
• Do you want people to be able to sign up to your newsletter?
• Do you want to be able to create forms for users to complete?
• Are you selling something online?
• Do you need to promote events and have a calendar?
• Do you need include videos on your site?
Why? First, because if you want your website to work in a certain way, your website team needs to know that in order to ensure that your website meets your needs. Second, because your website expert may be able to ask you sensible questions about the functionality you want and suggest alternative or better ways of achieving what you want to achieve. Third, because the more complex the functionality, the more time and effort needed to build the site and this may affect costs.
Tip: It might be an idea to prioritise your functionality wish list into “essentials” and “nice-to-haves”. Your website team can then quote for both, so that you can work out what’s best for your website AND your budget.
Think about the aesthetics of your website. Think about your business and what image you want to convey. Do you have strong views on colours or images? Is there a particular feeling that you want to capture? Think about your audience. Jot down some ideas about how you want to be perceived.
It’s useful to think of design in terms of what you like and dislike AND also in terms of who your audience is and what they may like and dislike.
As part of this stage, find 5 websites that you love and 5 that you hate (they don’t have to operate in the same sector or industry as you). Write down the website URLs, and explain why you like or hate each one, being as descriptive as you can and share this with your website designer.
An example would be:
Love: www.url.com The site feels very soft and feminine but still professional. I like the way that the images rotate on the top, and I really like the layout of the services page.
Don’t love: www.url2.com This site is way too busy. I don’t know where to go and just want to click “back”. I don’t like the yellow and red – this feels cheap to me and I want a more premium feel.
Why? Most people stuggle to describe what they like or dislike. Being able to give your web designer examples and illustrate those examples with other websites really makes your design preferences clear. It’s also important to have examples of sites you like AND dislike because design can be subjective: a site that one person sees as calming might be seen by someone else as boring! Again, this subjective view also depends on the audience: if you’re targeting people a meditation group, a minimalistic site with muted colours may work. If you’re selling pre-school games and want to capture the attention of a 2-year-old, those muted colours may flop and it might be better to consider something brighter and a site with a lot more action.
Have a budget in mind before you get going and if you’re worried about costs, ask your developer to provide a proposal that gives you a staged approach, with the first stage being the “essential”, and costs to extend or scale the website to include all your sexy “nice-to-have-but-not-essential” features.
Why? This approach will allow you to see the minimum and maximum costs based on your needs and you can then have a conversation about how to incorporate more or less features.
Tip: If your budget is really low, it’s sensible to be upfront about this so that the developer can look at your list of requirements (purpose, content and functionality above) and your budget and can give you an idea of what you can get for your money. Most developers will want to help if they can.
One more thing: Be realistic. If you’re trying to replicate Facebook, a multi-million dollar company with a website that has taken several years and hundreds of thousands of hours to develop, don’t be surprised when your web developer laughs when you say “I have a budget of £500 and I need to create a website that’s similar to Facebook”.
9. Contact designers and developers
How you do this is a whole different article, but briefly:
• ask friends, clients, acquaintances for recommendations
• search for designers in your area
• find websites that you like and get in touch for the contact details of their designer
Once you have a list of creative teams, visit their websites – do you like their style? Contact them for a short call – do they know what they’re doing? Can you communicate with them? These are important.
You need to find someone who can shows an interest in what you do and who can make suggestions and contribute ideas to help you make your project a success.
Why? Web design and development is a collaborative process and one in which a lot of trust is involved. If you can’t communicate with them, or don’t feel confident in their abilities, or dislike the sort of work they do, don’t work with them.
Then: Narrow your list down to 1-3 creative teams.
Request a proposal
Use all the information you have above to create a brief – a very thorough document detailing all your needs and preferences. You can even use some of the heading we have used in this document:
• Business (you and your business)
• Design (including websites you like & dislike & why)
• Budget (if you don’t want to include your budget, ask for a phased approach based on your essential and non-essential functionality list)
You may also want to include:
• Timescales: when do you want to start and complete the work?
• Brand material: do you have a logo and brand guidelines or do you need this work to be completed first? Do you want the creative team to quote to create your logo and brand? If you already have your brand in place, you may want to send this along with the brief.
• Additional information: anything that you feel is important that isn’t included in the above!
10. Select a web team and get going!
Once you’ve received proposals, you can review them, discuss them, narrow them down and hopefully select the team who are going to help you create a shiny new website!
Still unsure and need help?
Feel free to get in touch for a quick chat and I’d be happy to guide you through the murky waters of getting a website in place. You can contact me directly via email at suzanne [at] future-makers.co.uk (trying to avoid pesky spammers!) or visit www.future-makers.co.uk and get in touch via our contact form.
Published: 210 days ago
Some of those larger business among you – and some of the smaller ones to – many well need to run events. I remember in my first job as a Communications Manager for a small charity being responsible for masterminding their annual conference. Suddenly I was hit by all the logistics: finding a venue, booking the speakers, sending out the invites, managing all the replies …. it was daunting.
This month I’ve been focusing on an event again, this time the launch of my new book. I’m lucky that the first launch at the British Library is being masterminded by their fantastic team. But I realized I needed a second event as there are so many people to invite. As fate would have it I had recently met luxury events organiser, Meredith O’Shaugnessy. Meredith began her club scene, went on to manage some of the top London nightspots. By the time she set up her own events agency Meredith Bespoke, she had clients including Lamborghini and The Russian Space Agency.
So having secured her help with my event I decided to interview her about events, what makes a good events, and how she manages the kind of events that she’s asked to run which often involve huge logistics, large volumes of people and all sorts of things to consider. Being a small business owner herself I also wanted to capture a little of her story as I thought it might resonate with those business owners who read the blog here at Zestworks.
By Rasheed Ogunlaru, coach – speaker – author and member of the Zestworks small business team
Published: 249 days ago
Here’s the second half of life & business coach, Rasheed Ogunlaru’s interview with finance specialist, Heather Darnell of Back Office Support Solutions. In this part of the interview Rasheed asks Heather not only about more tips of money as a pre start, strat up or growing business – but also about Heather’s won journey of starting and growing a business.
This interview along with part one will be incredibly useful if you’re a sole trader or small business owner keen to learn more about managing and mastering the money side of running a business. Heather and Rasheed are both members of Zestworks, a team of independent small business specialist who work in a like-minded way to help small businesses to start and grow.
This interview is part of Rasheed’s Soul Trader interviews with business owners featured in his new book Soul Trader – Putting the Heart Back into Your Business which will be published in Oct 2012 by Kogan Page (see link for details and to reserve your copy).
Published: 259 days ago
One of the most exciting and sometimes frightening aspects of running a business is the money, figures and finance. We all want and need to make a profit but the numbers side can be challenging and many business owners struggle with understanding and keeping on top of the financial side of business.
Just as well that the Zestworks’ boasts Heather Darnell founder of Ask the Boss (Back Office Support Solutions) as a key team member. Heather is a former operations and finance director with a corporate background who set up Back Office Support Solutions to help small businesses to with all the money aspects of running a business. In this interview with fellow Zestwork’s member, Rasheed Ogunlaru (coach, speaker and author) Heather outlines some of the key issues to be mindful of when starting or growing a business.
Rasheed Ogunlaru interviews Heather Darnell pt 1/2
Heather is one of the business owners featured in Rasheed Ogunlaru’s forthcoming book for new and established businesses Soul Trader- Putting the Heart Back into Your Business published in Oct 2012 by Kogan Page
Published: 259 days ago
In all the busyness of running a business you can easily overlook all the other aspects of your life, or they can easily fall off the list.
Interestingly one of the first things I ask business owners when I’m coaching them is to find out what’s important to them in all aspects of their lives. And very often it’s addressing some of the life-balance things first that has the greatest impact, not only in their home and personal life, but also in their business.
So I invite you, right now, to pause and reflect:
* Where are you at right now?
*What’s going well for you in life and in business?
*What are the 3 key things that need to be addresses personally and professionally?
What help and support do you need.
If you’re currently reviewing your life and business goals, or if you need to, you may benefit from attending Your Life, Your Business my monthly workshop for sole traders, small business owners, experts and freelancers. It will help whether you’re starting up or established. It takes place at (and in partnership with) the British Library’s Business & Intellectual property Centre. Dates/details.
Rasheed Ogunlaru is a leading life coach, business coach and motivational speaker. He is a member of the Zestworks team of small business specialists and is the life/business coach partner to the British Library’s Business & IP Centre.
Published: 271 days ago
While you’ may feel compelled to charge forward it’s often a gentle step back that will reveal to you where you and what you truly seek.” - Rasheed Ogunlaru
In life we’re pretty much conditioned to constantly be looking ahead, moving ahead. We become restless and impatient. We feel that things are moving too slowly. Or when we feel things are moving too fast it’s because we feel we have not done or achieved enough. Life is not simply about content. It is about truly arriving at a place where we are content in our hearts and in our lives. Arriving at that space is not really about ticking off things from a wish list. It is about appreciating all that we are, all that we have, all that life is. This can actually happen in a moment and this is the invitation of every moment.
While many of my clients come to me – on paper to achieve this or that – that is not the whole reason that really approach me. Yes, there may be things they want to achieve in their life life, career or relationships, but they come to me because they want to arrive at real self acceptance, real fulfilment. They want to be authentic in all that they do.
Just this week I was chatting to a lady who I have coached for a few years on and off. Her life has had many challenges. From someone who was really sporty she was hit by ill health including cancer. She has been forced to step back rather than to step forward. Today she explained to me that she has learned that so much of the doing that she was doing was to fill a perceived space. Now she is stepping back, but passively but peacefully. Slowly she is becoming ready to step back into the world (in fact she has never stepped out of course) now she is ready to sense what truly and deeply resonates with her. But in the meantime when we pause it means that we can truly and richly appreciate the path we have traveled, all those who are around is and all that we are gifted, not least the greatest gift that is constantly looking us in the face; life itself.