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I was at a work group meeting last week discussing the opportunities for businesses in the “Digital Economy” particularly with the improvement in broadband services across Australia in coming years. It was a real eye opener in terms of how much more innovative businesses are going to have to be to prosper in the next 2-5 years and to maximise the changes in technology.

It also made me realise that Mark and I weren’t really doing this in our own business. That may surprise some of you given that I specialise in Social Media Marketing and am continually updating my skills to stay at the forefront of this rapidly changing media, but what I mean is that our business wasn’t innovating. Our websites had been the same for several years, our services had expanded but really only as a result of customer demand and we have been delivering these services in virtually the same way.

So, back to the title of this post, “The times they are a changing” and it’s time for us to change. But rather than changing “with” the times, as business owners we need to be changing “in front” of the times!  Seeking new opportunities and providing answers to questions that our clients don’t even know they have yet. I’m not talking crystal ball, rainbow and unicorns here but rather seriously considering the possibilities for your business in the digital economy. Who will your clients be? Where will they be located? How will they ‘interact’ with your services? And, most importantly, what will their needs/pain points/wants be?  Only after you have considered this should you then work out how you can best meet these needs and provide your services in the most readily accessible way to your clients in the future.

Already trials are underway of “digital dust” being woven into fabrics to sense changes in our health and report these remotely to doctors. Imagine this technology in food packaging so that your food not only ‘knows’ it’s use by date but transmits this to your fridge to have an order automatically placed via the internet for a replacement product to be delivered to your door! And that’s just the beginning – start thinking about 3 dimensional printing of objects including human organs with ‘ink’ an exact replica of human blood cells and you start to see how far (and how fast) technology is moving!

So what does that mean for our customers and why an I telling you about printing blood cells? As a group, of business, government and educational leaders, we could not come up with an industry that will not be changed by new technology. So as business owners, you need to not only be aware of the changes happening in technology but to start thinking innovatively.

For us, we have decided to “split” our business into two main streams to better service our client base while growing our offerings. This website, www.MarkandZoe.com will be our home base for Entrepreneurs looking to grow a business online. Our focus has always been on teaching “Internet Marketing” strategies but we are expanding this into a complete support site for building your business from anywhere in the World. Mark and I love the fact that we can work our business from our laptops from anywhere we have a reliable internet signal, and now want to share with you how you too can “Make The World Your Office”.

Over the coming weeks we will being adding our top tips and strategies to run a ‘virtual business’ including reviews and training videos on the tools, apps, income streams and services we use in our business. Our innovation is to support all of you that are going to be moving to ‘non-traditional’ business models over the coming years. We see huge changes coming for not only where we chose to work and how we work but, in fact, why we work.  Our plan is to become citizens of the the World not only travelling to every part of the Globe but living in many different places over the next 10 years.

If you are already running, or in the process of establishing, a virtual business we’d love your feedback here on the support you need and questions you have (please leave your comments below).

The second ‘half’ of our business, Social Media Marketing (training, strategy, system design and management), is getting a new home over at www.SocialMediaShortcut.com over the coming weeks. This site has housed our membership group and SocialMediaShortCut training program but, again, with innovation in mind, we are not only expanding our social media services but changing how we deliver these.

We have partnered with The Creative Collective agency and will have the capacity to deliver more regular trainings, social media strategy and system builds across the globe with consultations done via skype and/or video conferencing, and back these up with a new online membership site with monthly training webinars. This will mean that we are able to deliver you the most up to date information on trends and changes to social media marketing AND answer your questions each month via the internet ie without you leaving home! If the timing doesn’t suit your schedule (we are busy business owners after all) then the trainings will be recorded in your membership area.  More details on the monthly webinars will be emailed out to our clients next week, so make sure you have subscribed to our SMSC VIP List at www.SocialMediaShortCut.com for details on how you can access the webinar in May for Free!

The partnership with The Creative Collective opens up a huge group of specialist creative staff to us so that I can do what I do best (and love doing), train and strategise your social media marketing, and then hand the design, technology and management components over to other team members that specialise in these tasks.  We are growing our team of social media managers and I’m delighted to say that Mark and I now have a brilliant assistant, Ms Allsion Todd, supporting us in the day to day running of our business.  In keeping with innovation and maximising new technology, our team are all virtual, and now spread across 4 coutnries with Allison residing in the United States.  After all our clients are from around the Globe and we will be travelling to all parts of it so there are no barriers to where our staff are located (again other than having access to reliable internet connection).

We realise that some of what we share on both websites will overlap – for instance many of our virtual business owners want information on social media marketing,while many of our ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses that we have built social media systems for will benefit from accessing details on our online accouting program etc. When this occurs we will definitely be posting information on both websites and you will notice links to Social Media Marketing (above) here as well.

A good example of this is our upcoming Social Media Marketing for Business Seminars series. Details of these are on the events page on SocialMediaShortCut but we will also have a post here with a link as these will allow you to maximise social media to grow any type of business, whether virtual or ‘traditional’ bricks and mortar.

Our aim is to provide you (our wonderful community) with the information that is most relevent to you achieveing your goals and growing your businesses online. Social Media is becoming integral to our way of life, particularly with the advent of mobile technology, so every business needs to maximise this marketing method. But we understand that not all of you are interested in sharing our journeys around the World, working our business from our laptop, particularly if you are focussed on building clientelle in a specific geographic area and driving traffic to your shop front. Well atleast not right now – but start thinging innovatively and you never know ;-)

So our new structure in a nutshell:

www.MarkandZoe.com is for you if you want to build your business from anywhere, anytime via the internet. Highlighting our top tools, tips and tactics to “Make The World Your Office” and sharing our travels and innovations.

www.SocialMediaShortCut.com is for you if you want to learn how to maximise Social Media Marketing to grow your business. Highlighting our top tools, tips and tactis for “Guiding You Through the Maze of Social Media Marketing” while also keeping you updated on our latest Social Media trainings.

If both services appeal to you, then by all means sign up to both websites.  You will be receiving different e-newsletters and updates but we will alternate these so that you are never bombarded by messages.  Our aim is to provide you with ‘innovative’ cutting edge information to grow your business online and share with you our triumphs and mistakes (so you don’t have to make them) along the way.

So what do you think? Do you like our new plan? Are you changing your business structure in light of new technology? Are you ‘innovating’ in another way? We’d love you feedback below and/or over on our facebook pages.

Some things haven’t changed though – if you like this article please share far and wide with your social networks and, as always, “Have an Awesome Day”.

- Zoe

First of all “Happy New Year” to all of our wonderful clients, business partners, colleagues and readers.

Mark and I are looking forward to 2011 with a great deal of excitement – both for what we are planning in our own business and lives, and for how we can help you to grow your own businesses this year.

As many of you know, last year brought us new opportunities mixed with our fair share of challenges. While these, unfortunately, did impact on our projects with some of you, we have also learnt a huge amount from these as well.

When we sat down on New Year’s Eve to review 2010 and set our plans and goals for 2011, we realised that it has in fact been the things that didn’t go to plan that have resulted in the most positive changes. My Grandfather used to say that “Everything happens for a reason and whatever is, is best!”. I often repeat this mantra to our children but it was in the last few months that it has really rung true for us.

Let me explain what I mean and why this is important for you….

The last 12 months has seen massive growth in our business with new products, partnerships and clients. While this has been exciting and invigorating it also brought with it a new level of workload.

Sometimes as a business owner you get so focussed on building your business that you lose sight of your original goals with that business.

From the very start of our first home based business in 2003, our intention (and plan) has always been to build a business that allows us both financial and time freedom. In particular having both the time and money to chose where we worked and when, to travel extensively while running our business from our laptops, and to have the flexibility to spend time with our children (all 5 of them) and their extended families when we wanted to and, importantly, when they needed us the most.

In 2010, family, health and travel all collided with our business workload and commitments. As our business grew we were faced with the challenge of managing this growth while still delivering high customer satisfaction and quality service. The ability to successfully ‘scale up’ is a challenge for all growing businesses but particularly so when it’s only you, or the two of you (in our case) that are the business. When ill health or a family tragedy hit (or both as happened to us), then the juggling game can get over whelming. I wrote another blog post of our particular circumstances late last year and why it’s so important to plan for such occurrences here.

But, as Grandad said “Whatever is to be will be and whatever is, is best”, and we realised that we had two choices when the challenges struck – get over it or get out. Failure is not in our vocabulary and our business is too valuable to us –so we needed to get up and get over it.

Yes we did need to go into crisis management for a time. We did need to explain to our customers that our personal situation may impact their projects and, most importantly, we did need to learn some lessons and re-structure our business to prevent this type of impact in the future.

Out of the challenges we have a new business structure and a new excitement in our business that had disappeared some-what in the craziness of growth last year. This is where it gets exciting for all of you.

First and foremost, to the business owners amongst you, we hope you will learn from our experience and benefit from instigating some of the changes we are making into your own business model. Zoe will be posting more about the tools and systems we are using over the next few months with videos to help you use this technology.

Secondly, we have redesigned our business to allow for rapid growth this year while actually delivering more to our clients. We have already partnered with other companies to provide services and hired 3 new staff for our Social Media Services and Management Team. We are already implementing new technology to streamline our business processes to cut down on delivery times while maintaining our high levels of service but, most importantly, freeing Mark and I up to learn more, implement more and share more.

This will mean that I can focus on Seminars, speaking and training (where my true passion lies), and Mark can focus on packaging our products, quality control and project management – while we both have time to develop new skills.

Social Media Marketing is evolving and, by it’s very nature, requires us to be continually learning and adapting. We intend growing our team of specialised social media assistants throughout the year and training them in all that we learn.

Zoe will no longer be personally managing social media accounts for any clients (beyond the contracts we already have). All work will be under our watchful eyes, but we have discovered we can very effectively train staff to perform these tasks as well as Zoe can. In fact the new team members out type both of us so they are faster at this job and are able to deliver more tasks in the same amount of time. Truly a win-win situation for us and all of our clients.

We will be introducing you to your individual Social Media Assistant when you sign (or re-sign) with our Management services. For those of you that are still considering getting help with your Social Media Marketing, you can see the full range of services we now have available on our www.SocialMediaShortCut.com website.

On that note, we have exciting developments in the re-launch of the SocialMediaShortCut course as a live and recorded event, we will be travelling extensively to deliver Social Media and Internet Marketing trainings and Zoe is finalising arrangements for a 7 seminar series with two of Australia’s top Female Social Media Specialists! (Note from Zoe – Sooooo Awesome! Details to come very soon.)

So to all of you planning your next 12 months – remember to reflect on what was great about last year along with the things you would chose to do differently and do just that!

Make 2011 YOUR YEAR!

And if all this Goal Setting and New Year’s Resolutions talk is getting too much, take some time out and enjoy this song by @RhettandLink :

We’d love to hear your goals and dreams for this year along with the lessons you learnt from 2010 by either leaving a comment here or over on our Facebook Page:
http://www.Facebook.com/MarkandZoe and make sure to like the page if you haven’t already and share with your friends – thanks ;-)

Have an Awesome Year!

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted here. All excuses equal, we have had wonderful travel through the USA and returned home to some family issues that took priority over business.

On our way home from America, I sat on a QANTAS flight listening to another passenger abuse (and there’s no other term for it) the flight attendant for not providing the service he ‘expected’. In reality his complaint was that the type of red wine he preferred was not available.

He took it upon himself to educate the unbelievably patient crew member on how important he was, how important his business was to the airline and how, if this wasn’t recognised, he would take his business elsewhere.

How one does this at 40,000 feet I have no idea but by this point I’m assuming the flight attendant would have welcomed that action!

After a broken night of sleep, through a 14 hour flight, we drove for 90 minutes from the airport and returned home feeling jet lagged and tired. Mark had picked up a cough that had headed straight to his chest and we were feeling a bit sorry for ourselves to be honest.

I opened my email to find jobs unfinished and pressing deadlines with my VA having taken ill. For a time I forgot how much I love travel and how fortunate we were to have just spent two weeks in America with some of the top internet marketers and financial coaches in the World.

I just wanted everything to stop for while so I could go to sleep and catch up. Like the man on the plane, I was wallowing in thoughts of ‘didn’t the World know who I was???’ But then suddenly it did….

The phone rang and our middle daughter, Kathryn answered. Her face immediately fell.

You know ‘that’ look – shock, fear, sadness, disbelief, confusion. Her hand up in a stop signal told us to hold our questions – yet we continued to beg for details.

When she finally found the ability to speak through her tears, Kathryn told us there had been an accident, and our Son-in-Law’s twin Brother was dead.

The World Stopped.

We all looked at each other not knowing how to react or what to say. A young man, so full of life was gone – in an instant. The tears flowed as the reality kicked in of the wife and 2 babies (20 months and 3 months) he had left behind.

And just as suddenly, the jet lag lifted and the thoughts of entitlement disappeared. In the blink of an eye, things that had seemed so important and over whelming, simply didn’t matter any more.

We spent a couple of days in a fog supporting family, coming to terms with the loss and assisting where we could and as a result our business suffered.

I realised suddenly that I needed to let our customers know what was going on. With a single email I excused myself for my absence, explained we had had a family tragedy and apologised for any delays with projects.

In the wash up of this week, I learnt some valuable lessons about life, business and myself.

Firstly, I’m stopped sweating the ‘small stuff’. In comparison to facing Christmas without my Son, Brother, or Husband and Father of my two small children, the things I was stressing or complaining about really didn’t matter.

It’s easy as a business owner to let things overwhelm you when you are ‘everything’ to your business. I felt if I stopped then our business did too. This realisation has caused me to completely re-structure and re-engineer our business.

I’ve developed a system now where I have back up and have outsourced key tasks to a highly capable team (I’ll talk more about outsourcing in my next post). I’ve discovered this is not only important for our own sanity but also to deliver on time for our customers (they have their own priorities and pressures to work to as well).

I also discovered that in the last two years, we had attracted the most incredible, understanding, wonderful clients. Without fail every single one of them took the few lines in my email to them and understood. I appreciate them more than I could ever express in words.

So, the point of this post for all of you?

Yes there is a message of keeping things in perspective, thinking about what’s ‘really’ important and not ‘sweating the small things’ that really don’t matter. But there’s also the lesson in structuring your business the smart way.

If you are currently indispensable in your business, then it’s time to put an escape plan in place.

What happens if you get sick? Or need time to support family? Or are delayed in transit etc etc etc

Use this post as a push towards designing a business that works with or without you (at least for a period of time). A linchpin you may be but having your business dependent upon you is a dangerous model.

The upside is that our business is stronger as a result of what has occurred in the last few weeks. We have developed wonderful relationships and joint ventures with contractors, suppliers and staff members, that I probably never would have without circumstances demanding it.

We now have an expanding business, a support network to call upon and a growing team. Plus we value our clients like never before and are going out of our way to deliver at levels above and beyond what we have ever done.

And in recognising what really matters in life, we have discovered a lot that just really doesn’t. All that ‘small stuff’ that we get so caught up in that we really don’t need to stress about.

So this Festive Season, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’, hold your family a little closer and tighter than usual, tell them how much you love them and focus on what truly matters.

Mark and I will have a red wine to toast all of you over the holidays and, I assure you, we won’t give a second thought to what variety it may be.

Merry Christmas

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. – Dr. Suess

I read this quote from Dr Suess recently and began to think about what it meant and found it to be quite profound.

What do YOU think?

What a wonderful outlook on life.

Read another way it says “Be true to yourself and don’t worry what others think.”  Far too many people spend countless hours considering what others will “think” of their actions and decisions.

In fact, the vast majority of them won’t consider you or your decisions for more than a fleeting moment, let alone “think” about it.  But it is human nature to want to be seen in a positive light by as many others as possible.

So we make adjustments to what we actually want to do because others may not “think” it is a good idea. This can never result in a good outcome because you will always resent the fact, consciously or unconsciously, that you modified your plan, not to suit yourself, but to suit what others deemed as acceptable.  And all too often, that is merely a perception, not borne out by fact.

This is where Dr. Suess’s saying comes to the fore – “because those who matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter”.  True friends and loved ones will always support your dreams and aspirations, even if they don’t necessarily agree with them.  It is the support that is crucial.  That is why they matter, and why they don’t mind.

The remainder of the world should not have any influence on your decisions.  If any of them do mind, they are entitled to their opinion, but it doesn’t matter, and they won’t think about it for more than a few moments.

Don’t let them become dream stealers and alter your course.

Surround yourself with like minded people who have a positive effect on your life.

So, if you have something you want to achieve, pursue it with all your heart.  The satisfaction you feel when you fulfil that goal is immeasurable.

Nothing is more important than what YOU think.  After all, they are YOUR dreams.

Mark Wyatt
Mark’s Wanderings and Wonderings

I am currently running training webinars along with Tanya Outridge, from SalesPipelinePros, teaching “Social Media Marketing for Network Marketers” to internet marketing business students in this part of the World (well primarily from Australia, New Zealand and Europe).

Last night we covered “Twitter Domination – How to get the maximum results for your business by marketing professionally on Twitter”.

The webinar was recorded but it turned into a very (very) long call.  So I decided to break the training down into smaller, more manageable pieces and re-record it all this week.

I will continue to add videos to this post as I complete these over the coming few days.  My advice is to start at video number 1 and progress through the series to get the maximum results for your network marketing business from Twitter, in the minimum amount of time.

Enjoy and I look forward to you letting me know your results via Twitter – you’ll find me @zdeluca

Let’s Get Started …….

Social Media Marketing for Network Marketers
“Twitter Domination”

Video 1 “How to Maximise Twitter to Grow Your Network Marketing Business”

 


Video 2 “How to Design & Set Up a Powerful Twitter Profile”

 


Video 3(PtA) “Establishing Your Follower Base on Twitter”

 


Video 3(ptB) “How to Set Up a Follower Schedule on Twitter”

 


Video 4 “Delivering Quality Content and Tweets – What To Tweet About”

 


Video 5 “Twitter Management Using Hootsuite”

 


Video 6 “How to Automate & Integrate Your Twitter Activities with Ping.fm Hootsuite & SocialOomph”

 

Building a Network Marketing Business or looking for how to be Successful in Your Home Business – then consider what you are focusing on each day.

Are you looking at the Opportunites or the Difficulties?

My latest video is on the importance of focus in your business (and your life).

As an Entrepreneur you will encounter challenges but it’s how you react to these that will determine your success.

How do you keep your focus in your business? Share your tips in the comments below…..