How to wear the multiple hats of a business owner with ease

How to wear the multiple hats of a business owner with ease

By Emma Donovan

Posted on 7th May 2019

As a business owner, you have to wear multiple hats and learn to focus on the ones that are most important right now – acknowledging that they will change along the way. As we approach Yellow Door’s fifth birthday, my top two are securing new clients and leading strategy workshops. In this blog post I’ll unpack this a bit further, share some tips that keep me on track.

My new business director hat

YellowDoorCo-105

About 14 months ago we decided to focus on attracting not just bigger clients, but the right clients. Clients that share our values and want a strategic marketing partner to add value to their business over time.

 

I spend more than half of my time on this – and no two days are the same. It ranges from coming up with ways to improve our offering and how we position Yellow Door to networking, meeting potential clients and pouring over spreadsheets!

 

It’s taught me to have patience, to have courage and to really play to my strengths of woo, ideation and communication.

My strategy hat

pooh

This is how I feel when I wake up to run a strategy workshop! In fact, I love everything about them:

 

  • Collaborating with brilliant minds – our clients, our team and often a consultant or two to bring a fresh perspective
  • Quality time – phones are off, and the rest of the world can wait
  • Thinking on my feet – we often go off script, and that’s when the magic happens
  • Creativity – whether it’s a brand story, a marketing plan or a campaign; it’s starting with a clean slate and crafting something new
  • Discovery – we get to learn about an array of industries, suggest ways to incorporate new trends, and improve our offering along the way

Four more hats

In a typical day at the office I also wear hats of an editor, mentor, partner and planner. And the secret is to get the balance right between them. It takes practice, and is a work in progress, but here are seven tips that have helped me to stay sane:

 

  • Start the day with a priority list not a to do list
  • Stay agile
  • Surround yourself with people that you can learn from
  • Ask for help, don’t try to do it all yourself
  • Celebrate the small wins as well as the big ones
  • Set goals
  • Find the balance between the big picture and what needs to happen today

 

If you’d like to work with Yellow Door or find out more about our strategy workshops, pop me an email: emma@theyellowdoor.co.za and we can connect over coffee or Skype.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Recently on the blog

6 lessons we’ve learnt from designers

6 lessons we’ve learnt from designers

By Anthony Horne

Posted on 27th March 2019

Designers can teach us a lot of things. About using space and being creative but also about being succinct and to the point, as well as using new technology to our benefit. What we learn can be implemented in any environment from building a website to creating a productive working environment. Below are 6 lessons we have learnt from design that you can adapt to suit your life and business.

1. Find your space

Many of us spend most of our day at work, in an office, at a desk, and behind a laptop or computer. For most, this can be soul-crushing and ultimately affects their output and quality of work. As an individual, find a space and make it your own. Be comfortable in your space and confident in your abilities. As a company, create a work environment that inspires your employees to produce great work and grow as individuals. This same concept can be applied when building a website, design it like you would your space – in a way that shows off your individuality and sustainable competitive advantage.

2. Clear, straight-forward language

In the words of Blaise Pascal: “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.”

 

Long-winded copy, heavy with overcomplicated sentences and filled with fancy industry specific jargon and phrases makes for difficult reading! Sometimes this is completely unavoidable. If you are speaking to industry experts and fellow colleagues, then you must talk the talk. In most cases though, especially when you are talking to clients or the general public, this is not necessary. You are more likely to lose a client or scare off potential clients if they can’t understand what you are saying or feel stupid just reading the copy on your website or brochure. Keep it simple, straight-forward and to the point.

3. Don’t be that one-trick pony

It’s great to be an industry expert and a leader in a certain service. It isn’t so great losing clients to a competitor because they think that one service is all you can do. Clearly define your services to potential and current clients. Let your clients know exactly what they can benefit from. It’s always easier to upsell to a current client than sell something to an entirely new client. An ongoing relationship builds strength, understanding, communication, and most importantly, a more rewarding partnership.

4. New projects, new tech

Try to implement some sort of new technology in every project you do – new framework, new syntax or new tools. Trying these small, continuous inclusions during a project will reduce the time spent outside of working hours keeping yourself up-to-date with the latest trends. Be wary though, trying new tech is a decision that needs to be well planned and thought out. If it’s going to severely affect the budget or time you have, it probably isn’t a good idea.

5. Less is more

Learn to say ‘no’. It’s that simple. In order to accomplish more, you actually have to do less. Whatever that means practically is up to you, fewer emails, fewer meetings, fewer new business lunches (which might sound stupid), or fewer team building functions. The more you have on your plate, the less time you have to do each task, and this leads to unfinished or poorly executed work. With less on your plate you can be more focused and driven, and this will lead to results.

6. Be an educator

Clients don’t know what they haven’t been told. Sounds pretty straight-forward, right? But how many times has a client come to you in the middle or at the end of a project with a wildly dreamt up idea that they expect you to just deliver on? Functionality they would take weeks of development to produce, and they expect it tomorrow. At the beginning of every project, clearly define what you can and can’t do, and what level of flexibility you are comfortable with. Changes are inevitable, unless you are perfect (ha, I know you thought it), but unless you set clear parameters and objectives, a seemingly easy project can go on for months.

 

Technology changes and we change along with it. The lessons we learn during these changes are the difference between growing and improving or staying the same. The more adapt you become at implementing the lessons you learn, the more effective you will be at producing results, improving workflow and the quality of your work. So these are the design lessons we’ve learnt that we feel will benefit anyone, and hopefully improve projects and workflow along the way.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Recently on the blog

Make your business stand OUT on LinkedIn

Make your business stand OUT on LinkedIn

By Janine Langheim

Posted on 13th March 2019

Since its start in 2002, LinkedIn has grown in fame for connecting professionals all over the world. You might see it as an online tool to find your next position or advance your career. However, it can also be invaluable for growing your brand and expanding networks for your business.

Companies, particularly those with a B2B focus, can use LinkedIn to access a target audience that is not found on other social media platforms.

Here are seven sure-fire (tried and tested) ways to market your business through LinkedIn:

1. Start with your own profile

Yes, we are still focussing on how to market your business on LinkedIn, but the reality is that people do business with people, not companies. Your personal profile, and that of every team member within your company, all form part of the collective perception of your brand and is where first impressions are formed. When looking at someone’s profile, people silently answer the question “Do I want to work with this person?”.

 

Do your best to make sure your profile stands out from that of others in your industry (competitors). Make sure your profile image, qualifications, experience, skill set is always up to date and that your profile is 100% completed.

2. Create a complete LinkedIn company page

Now that your personal profile is set-up correctly, you can focus on your LinkedIn company page. A LinkedIn company page is different to a personal profile and is set up to represent a business or brand to potential customers, investors and partners. The page allows you to post updates and add information that comes across more effectively from a brand name than from an individual.

As with your personal profile, make sure you complete your company page 100%. According to LinkedIn, companies with complete information get 30% more weekly views.

 

A complete page is made up of:

 

  • Your company logo: Upload a quality version of your logo, positioned and sized accordingly.
  • Page cover: A lifestyle image that complements the core messaging of your brand and works aesthetically with your company’s CI.
  • Company info: This includes your website URL, location, company size and type.
  • Description: Include relevant keywords and phrases that best describe your company’s mission and purpose.  This will help LinkedIn members who search by keywords, find you.

Also make sure that you and all your team members link their personal profiles to the company page.

3. Clarify your company goals and audience

You can’t reach your goals if you don’t know what they are. Make sure you know exactly
what you want to achieve with your LinkedIn marketing. Common marketing goals include
generating leads, making sales and/ or creating branding awareness.

 

Understanding what ‘success’ looks like will make it easier for you to identify your audience, strategically populate your profile, target your adverts and decide on what content to share.

4. Share content that matters

Always share quality content that your audience will find interesting, that will help them to perform better in their jobs or help solve their pain points.

 

Although you would naturally want to only focus on promoting your business,  include a good dose of ‘curated content’, which is content posted by other individuals or businesses that might be of value to your followers.

 

According to LinkedIn, their members love a fresh idea. And that is why publishing thought leadership content is one of the most powerful ways to grow your LinkedIn audience. As Laura Ramos from Forrester says, “Business buyers don’t buy your product; they buy into your approach to solving their problems.”

 

Regularity is another key element to success. LinkedIn recently shared that companies that post weekly see a 2x lift in engagement with their content. Posting daily will increase that number even more, however make sure quality is always maintained.

 

Finally, the golden thread should be that all your content must align with, and aid, your company in achieving its business goals (as mentioned in the previous point).

5. Use rich media to increase engagement

We process images much faster than text. So, it makes sense that posts with images garner over six times more engagement than text-only content.

Meet your audience’s craving for visual content by adding images, YouTube videos, and GIFs to your updates. To keep things interesting, alternate between these three to best suit the content shared.

6. Amplify your offering

You don’t have to spend thousands of Rands on LinkedIn advertising each month to effectively reach your target audience. We have been surprised at how a conservative budget of between R200-R500 a month can make a remarkable difference to the effectiveness of brand’s marketing campaign.

 

Choose between ‘boosting a post’ or ‘creating an advert’, and set everything from your target audience’s occupation, age and location to their interests.

7. Regularly audit your page

Make it a priority to audit your business page once a quarter to make sure it always reflects your brand accurately. It should include posts about your latest achievements, service offering and team members.

 

Although it is simple enough to audit your profile yourself most times, we suggest that you get a third party in to do an external audit once a year to make sure there are no blind spots that might be keeping you from that growth you desire.

As with all social media platforms, change seems to be the only constant on growing platforms such as LinkedIn, so make sure you regularly read industry related articles to familiarise yourself with changes or add-ons. However, if you’d rather spend that time on your business directly, it might be time to source a digital agency like Yellow Door to manage your business page for you! Pop me an email at janine@theyellowdoor.co.za if you’d like to take the conversation further.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Recently on the blog

Coffee, printing and papercuts: an intern’s perspective

I was fresh out of college, branded with my new degree, and very unsure of what my next step would be. So, I did what many marketing graduates do (or have to do) and started looking around for an internship, honing my printing skills, and finding the best way to carry ten cups of coffee at a time.

I am now in my fifth month of interning at Yellow Door Collective and if I was to sit down and pep talk past-Simon with some pointers I think it would have gone a long way in avoiding countless CV version/ updates, some minor second-degree burns, and many paper-cuts.

So, here are the six things I wish I had known going into my internship.

You will do much more than fetch coffee

The stereotypical intern experience seems to be going on coffee runs, printing mountains of documents and being consumed by mountains of admin. My internship experience has been anything but that; I’ve haven’t ever been asked to get coffee or print a single page (yet). In an agency like ours you will work and collaborate with creative minds, write blog posts, manage social media accounts, draft a communication strategies and much more.

It’s as worth it as you want it to be

If you want to get the most out of the experience, then you have to work at it. The trick is to not feel like you’re an intern and rather treat every task get like it’s up to you to make happen.

Never forget that your thoughts and ideas are a new perspective for the company you are working for. You are young, your brain is fresh, and you will bring a whole lot of new and exciting things to the table, so back yourself.

Embrace mistakes

It’s why you are an intern right? You are working to learn and learning to work. You should look at it as your first move into game where you don’t know the rules yet, at first you are going to look around you every role of the dice, but after a while you’ll be scheming, strategising and working your way to the top of the leader board. You are also not the only person who will make mistakes so learn from other people’s mistakes too and you’ll climb in double time.

Build up an arsenal of skills

Anything from writing copy to designing awesome graphics, these skills are especially important as a marketing intern. You will also learn about some cool software as you go, so take note of what you enjoy working on and let your creative juices flow.

No question is a bad question (the first couple times)

Looking stupid in the moment is totally normal, as long as it makes you wiser further down the line. If you don’t know or you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask, but learn from what you ask. Make notes or jot down something that will jog your memory the next time, because asking the same question over and over doesn’t look very good.

Be completely transparent

There is nothing worse than feeling like you just aren’t good enough, so when your boss asks you how a task is coming along and you, drowning in paper-work, say “all good” then I can promise you that you are very unlikely to get the help you need.  If you’re not comfortable with something or have proactive suggestions and ideas, let the team or your superior know! You’ll definitely be respected for speaking up, asking for help, or offering to help with something else.

Helen Hayes perfectly summed this up when she said “The expert in anything was once a beginner”, so be humble in praise, accepting of criticism, and most of all, go into every encounter with an open mind wearing an optimistic smile.

Corporate vs. agency: to what design are you inclined?

Corporate design versus agency design, a simple case of good versus evil or is it a matter of choice? Is it the dark and light side of the force or is it simply a matter of preference? So many questions… but where are the answers?

I have worked on both sides of the proverbial fence, currently applying my trade on the agency side, but it wasn’t until I move from client side to agency life that I truly realised just how different they are.

It’s not just the pace, day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, billable hours, working on multiple accounts, client reports, tight deadlines, variety of work, or even the fact that with some clients you need to be available at all-times of the day and night – everything, really is different.

Corporate life

On the client side, things tend to happen at a more manageable pace. Not to say that you don’t get tight deadlines, but generally the workload is more spread out. Marketing calendars, schedules, budgets, projects, campaigns and company collateral are usually all decided on at the beginning of the year. With that out the way you have plenty of forewarning and can plan ahead, do more research, and spend a little more time on projects. On the flipside, and depending on the size of the business, you can sometimes sit with mediocre tasks in-between the bigger projects or campaigns.

A good thing about a corporate setting is that you only have one client or brand to worry about. You have a much deeper understanding of the business, its culture, the people, and the job itself. It provides longevity and stability, and the structures that are in place provide a sense of security, not to mention that most corporates offer some pretty sweet packages and benefits.

Some negatives would have to be the numerous meetings and loop holes you have to go through, more often than not there tends to be conflicting objectives, not just between the different departments or your own team, but sometimes between management and the rest of the team. And probably the biggest annoyance would have to be the on-going politics.

Agency life

A few words to describe the agency setting would be fast-paced, dynamic, fun, competitive, lifestyle, multiple clients, stressful, different brands and industries, and continuous learning. If all this sounds amazing then agency life might be the right fit for you. Tasks and decisions come at a much faster pace. Deadlines are tighter, workload is usually heavier, and clients expect things way quicker than is sometimes humanly possible.

If you’re like me, the continuous learning part is fun, but it’s not always easy, especially when you need to learn how to do something that you’re either not interested in or have a difficult time wrapping your head around. The fact that you get to work with a variety of clients, brands and industries is cool, and you get to work on a multitude of strategies.

This does, however, require you to know a lot about everything, and if you don’t, you’d better learn it quickly. Your clients expect you to bring your A-game every day, and most of the time they act like they are your only client. You have to stay up-to-date with industry news, trends, technology, and even what other agencies are doing. After all, a client shouldn’t be telling you what to do or what another agency is doing better; you’re the expert and you need to blow their socks off every day.

At an agency you are afforded the opportunity to try your hand at different things, whether it be new industries, technology or specializations. This is great for you, especially early on in your career, as it gives you the ability to find what you do and don’t like, not to mention give you more experience and knowledge, which is crucial if you want to become a sought-after commodity. Another cool thing is that most agencies have one or more truly experienced and wiser professionals who can help teach and mentor you.

On the downside, not all agencies can afford to pay as much as corporates, the structures and benefits are not always there, and sometimes the environment can be a bit too laid back. I also found that sometimes you just have to work longer hours, including nights and weekends, either to get the work done or because you’re juggling too many things at once.

Converting to agency life

I have worked on both sides now for about the same amount of time and after the dust has settled, I can’t say I prefer one more than the other. Both have their positives and negatives, and both are so completely different. I wouldn’t say that either side is cushier or more beneficial to one’s career than the other, because it depends on the individual. I will say that if you like structure and need more stability in your career then corporate is the way to go, on the other hand, working at an agency has kept me on my toes and every day holds something completely new and exciting.