How to Start Video Marketing and Do it Right

Video marketing seems to be everywhere now, from social networking sites to your inbox. At mostly 60 seconds or less, videos are an excellent way to get attention for your business or cause. These videos convey the message in a creative way and nobody seems to mind a little entertainment.

It's time to gear up and start making these videos and make people talk about you and your business.

For entrepreneurs, video marketing is gold as these short videos give you a good platform to showcase your offerings and connect with thousands of people. When viewers watch your videos, they want to be entertained and informed. You should work on the content, lighting, venue and actors as per your budget and style preference. Many entrepreneurs feature themselves in these videos, shoot inside their offices and use natural light (or other easy-to-use equipment). You will only have 30 to 60 seconds to say it all, so get it right.

Here are our tips to make your videos dramatic, entertaining and informational.

1. Hire people to write

When you want people to know about your offering, rely on experts. The script writers know how to send the message across the audience. They write phrases that will go well with the animation or the choreography. The timing of each scene and the length of each dialogue must complement each other. Your scriptwriter will weave the phrases which are easy to hear and understand. They will ensure that the word count is just enough for the
audience to understand the business offering in a few seconds. There are many scriptwriters available in the market that are affordable and work independently.

2. Keep a separate budget

The video making process involves the cast, crew, and venue. It is different from other marketing campaigns. This one will be talking directly to your viewers. So don’t let financial pressure mess it up. Start by assigning a separate budget and work within those boundaries. When you know how much your budget is, you will be able to gauge the quality of video you can afford. A well thought out budget also helps you decide whether your idea of the video is achievable or not.

3. Be realistic

What do you want? An animated video, hiring actors with a big set up or just a casual video with your team talking about the amazing things you are doing at work? Decide beforehand as a lot of time and effort goes into making these videos. A few ways by which you can make this decision is to:

a) Identify your audience and understand what they would like

b) Decide what kind of visuals will connect with the viewers

c) Find out what is trending and what gets the web traffic going

4. If it is your first time, tell a story

If this is your first video, make it tell a story. Tell people about you and explain to them what value your product or service will bring into their lives. There are so many women who are fighting hard to get their business idea a voice. This marketing method can become your chance to do that.

Finally, don’t bore your viewers. Keep the video short, make it worth their time and ensure they will come back again. You can post these videos on your website and YouTube. In the end, just ask one thing to yourself – Will this video help someone?

Good luck with your videos!

Ramandeep Kaur CONTRIBUTOR

Ramandeep Kaur CONTRIBUTOR


How to: Delegate

Are you still living in denial that you can do everything and don’t really need any help? A lot of women face this problem. If you think that not having a helping hand or by not asking people to help, that it will make you stronger or more independent, you are burdening yourself with ‘extra’ work every day.

Identify, and don't reason away your problem

If you find yourself doing jobs which you could easily delegate, are spending time rescheduling your day to fit in as many tasks as possible (including your subordinate’s work) and find that you don’t have the confidence in others to delegate the work to, then it’s time to take the next step towards sharing the load.


Once you realise that you’re not the odd one out and that there are many like you, make your actions speak louder than your words. Whether it’s by employing someone to help or just releasing the strings a bit and allowing people to help, start with small tasks. If you are a homemaker, ask your husband to help organise the pantry or fold the clothes for you. If you are a businesswoman, divide your workload with the team and try to step away and just supervise them. Let your team know that you trust their efforts and timely delivery of work. In no time, your days will be less burdened and your mind will get the chance to do nothing but relax – but you do have to make the effort to step back.

Supervise and Ensure Comprehension

When you share the work load, there can be times when the results will disappoint you. This is common in the workplace when your subordinates do not meet your quality standards or do not properly understand the brief, but can you blame them entirely? No. You can ask for help but you can’t get a promise that the work will 100% adhere to your standards. People are different in the way they do their work and it’s also your responsibility to ensure that the task is relayed and understood in an efficient manner to make it easier for the delegate to do the job right first time. When you share the workload, you must supervise them to ensure that the job is well done but from a step back because no one likes micromanagement. Be wise, supervise!

Asking for help and helping others will always make you happy. Try it today. Discover how others can make a difference in your life. Write to us about how you have made this change.




How to Deal with a Bad Boss

Open letter to bad bosses

Let me preface this with saying that while it may sound naiive to those of you in business for far longer than I, that manipulation is not the way to lead a business. You may have gained rampant success with your methods, you may even have much of your employee base and client base eating out of the palm of your hand but back-end tactics and what I'm sure you call 'strategic (or tactical) manipulation' is not how I would want to lead a business and perhaps that means never joining the world's rich list but I'd rather have a clean leadership style than one that muddied with the employ of ill-gotten gains.

To me, the art of business (and yes, it's an art) is balanced on a foundation of good and honest client, employee and industry relationships that aren't bought, rather earned - developed from the ground up with the initial 'can't believe they said yes to working with me' excitement and the continuing proof of value to those that are icons in your industry.

It's about working hard to establish a brand identity and to develop that identity into an authority in your field.

It's about bringing on board likeminded people with a view to the same vision you have and working together to create something of value.

It's about establishing yourself as the person behind the brand by individually cultivating relationships with clients, employees and industry folk so that when they think of your business niche, that yours is the one that springs to mind - that you are the one they want to recommend and while you may draw parallels with the way you manipulate relationships to gain ground, the right way is done with transparency, honest communication and in proving your value until you no longer need to.

It will never be acceptable to berate an employee.
It will never be acceptable to manipulate your employees, your clients, your industry insiders or even the guy who cleans the corridor at night to get what you want.

Now for the staffers

Sometimes in the workplace, you'll encounter someone so manipulative, so difficult and so disrespectful that it takes everything you have not to battle it out mid-office.

Ideally, your manager is fantastic and supportive, wants to help you grow and succeed, makes you feel personally valued and respected, but unfortunately, it's simply not the case for the vast majority of people. Whether they're a micromanager, watching over your every task and effectively doing the work themselves or their deeply manipulative and disrespectful behaviour makes you feel as if you're entirely incompetent, you still have to be the one to take the high road and make the best of the situation to get the job done.

Hold your tongue and take it on the nose

If it's not a common occurrence, it's possible there's a lot more going on with them they're not telling you. Often they'll come back in a few hours or the next day and apologise for venting their frustrations at you. It's important to observe their behaviour and work out what their motivation is for the ill-treatment. Sometimes it's just all too much for them and they snap, sometimes your are genuinely underperforming and they're fed up and sometimes they're just assholes.

Unfortunately, you still have to do your job and not let it affect your work which is certainly the high road but in the moment, the hardest road to take. You won't 'even the score' by working slower or taking an extra lng lunch break and those who take 'mental health days' are looked at as complete fruit loop slackers to most senior management execs so if you do desperately need a break, at least just call in with a quickly cultivated stomach flu.

Stay Ahead of the Game

Micromanagers are the worst - they stand over you as you work, they check in every other minute, they show how little faith they have in your ability to get the job done and yet expect you to be pleased by their coaching.
The manager's answer is for the employee to anticipate requests and getting them done before the manager comes to you - but isn't that every manager's dream employee- someone who preempts every request, works without delay and from whom the glorious glow of sunshine emanates from their behind but honestly, as an employee, that kind of management is likely to drive you out of the business (likely with a negative reference) or to breaking point if you don't speak up and if you've had a micro manager before and have become the sunshiney preemptive wunderkind you'll know that a lot of managers actually seem to get more fired up as if it's a commentary on their leadership somehow.

Compile Evidence

Document the interactions. If they send you emails, great - file them, if they say something to you that was disrespectful (and don't be too soft about it, people are sometimes just disresepectful so make sure it's only the really bad stuff) - write it down with the date and the reason they said it ie a piece of work that wasn't completed to their satisfaction.

Also with just plain old standard requests, don't delete anything - this way when they yell at you for not having done something the way they asked, you have the proof of what they asked and how you've addressed it as per.

Cover yourself at all times and be prepared to pull out your evidence when your manager questions you. It's a sad thing to have to do but so necessary in these kinds of workplace.

Speak Up

Book time with your manager to discuss how you work, how you prefer to be managed and how best to proceed because the behaviour isn't helpful to you and it's certainly not practical for the business or either of your workloads.
If you need to, follow company procedure to lay a formal complaint with the HR department (though if you're working for the owner of the company or CEO, you might just be out of luck.)


If you feel like you've addressed all your options save for one and that no progress is being made, it may be time to leave but when you do, make sure it's on good terms. For one, you need a good reference but also, other companies don't want to hear you bad mouthing a former boss because they'll think you'll do the same for them and reputation is everything.

Avoid the next Bad Boss

When you interview with a new company, take time to ask the right questions - you need to work out how the manager prefers to lead, you need to be able to irk out the impression that they want to be able to give you a task and expect it to be done. That's a hands-off manager.
Do your research - chat to an employee in the elevator, look up the manager online - get a feel for their personality and how they make others feel but this isn't sure-fire. It's all to easy for a manager to fool the bulk of the team and only show their true colours to their subordinates or direct coworkers.

Whatever approach you try, know that the kind of behaviour we've come to experience from bad managers in the past or that we've heard of from you readers, is 100% unacceptable and needs to be rectified.

After all - How can you lead without any followers?


How to make your passion, your career

We all love to do other stuff in our free time. Interests like cooking, painting, writing, hiking, reading, etc. are a few we can relate to. But there is always something we actually take out time to do. For instance, you love to head outside and click photos on weekends or explore new places and its food. These are not mere interests but your passion as you feel satisfied and happy doing it. How great will it be if you can get up every morning to grow your passion and also be able to make some bucks from it?

If you have a passion which really drives your energy and efforts to make you happy, why not make it your career? Here are some ways to get your passion your profession.

Time to get noticed

When you decide to pursue your passion, right set of people should notice you and your work. You should have a plan to build a network. Use social networking sites, have your own website to showcase work, talk to people about what your plan and offer volunteer projects to get into the market. By creating a network and reaching out to people who can help you professionally, you brighten your chances of a bright career. This way, you will also get a clear idea whether this career change will be fruitful or not.

Build a portfolio

Having a collection of your work gives your passion a face. It is also an excellent way to make recruiter understand what you do and what you look for. As you’ll build your profile, you will get an overview of how your skills are improving and what more you can do to be in the competition. A good portfolio will earn you brownie points and showcase quality than quantity in your experience when you start looking for permanent positions.

Get a job

Finding a job when you switch careers is tough. You will start as a fresher and may have seniority and financial complications. But unlike many, things will be brighter for you with a good network and an enhanced portfolio backing up your efforts. Also, try not to waste time finding a perfect role. Pick up a position which requires you to challenge your passion in different ways. This way you’ll learn what all you can do with your new-found love.

Volunteer, Practice, Do not stop!

When you have officially established your new choice, have a job and started delivering excellence, you will be proud of your hard work and determination. You will be get up every day to do a job you love. Saying this, work might feel dull, boring or monotonous at times. Don’t let this change your attitude towards work. Keep trying new things which require you to look at your work positively. You may volunteer, practice at home (if possible) or improve your current way of doing the job. The aim is to grow and never look back.

It takes a lot of risk and courage to switch careers, to follow what you love and the toughest is to stick to your decision.

It is time you push limits to start living for your passion.

Ramandeep Kaur - CONTRIBUTOR

Ramandeep Kaur - CONTRIBUTOR


How to Write a Business Plan

When you first think of your business idea, it can be so easy to launch directly into the creative side, building it up without the forethought of how what you do now may impact other facets in the future. It's important to have a solid foundation under your bouncy castle and this is where the business plan comes in.

It may seem like the boring part of the business, planning for the future, planning to expand, planning to leave and sell before you've even begun but not only does having a plan help you to work out your roadmarkers and ensure you're on track but also is an enormous help when you get approached to franchise your business (which in some case happens way before you ever expected it to - IF you ever expected it to at that!) and with a plan, you're not scrambling to prepare or getting caught up in a hype that may not work in with your vision for the business. 

The good news is that it doesn't need to be difficult or laborious.

1. Overview

First things first - what do you do? why do you do it? what would someone reading this document need to know to understand  your business' purpose? 

Are you a Limited Liability Company? Are you a sole proprietor? A partnership? Where are you located? Are you an e-Commerce business or brick and mortar - perhaps a hybrid? 

It may seem overwhelming at the start but these are the basic stats of your business. It's like filling out any application form you've ever filled in, but for your business rather than for you personally.

2. Products and Services

Write up a list of your products or services and write a brief description of each one. It may help to categorise your products or services, especially if your company is focusing on becoming a lifestyle brand with its fingers in many pies at once.

What will you offer immediately and what do you plan to grow into? What will you offer say 5, 10 years from now?

3. Sales and Marketing Plan

Describe how you intend to structure pricing for the aforementioned products and services. What's your justification for arriving at that price? - does your research support it? - what are the elements that make it up? ie cost price, labour, packaging, shipping, margin? etc these should all be very transparent and itemised.

4. Market Analysis and Marketing Strategy

Who are your target market? Where do they live? work? What are their hobbies? What else are they interested in besides your burgeoning business? 

In order to market accurately and efficiently to these people, you need to have an understanding of who they are and what their buying behaviour may be.

5. Competitive Analysis

Who are your competitors? What do they offer that you don't? What do you offer that they don't? - it's not enough to compete with the same product or service, you need to offer something extra or different in order to stand out from the flock. 

Identify what your competitors do well and the areas for improvement (just don't tell them those improvements!)

6. Financial Plan/Budget

And finally, your financial plan. Here's the part where you need to either be a huge optimist and overforecast your profits or be miserly and underestimate your ability. It goes against everything we tell you in our motivators but this is the one area where you need to be wholly realistic. If you state that you're going to gain 10 clients a month at an average of $5,000 each and you only make one client every 3 months for a discounted price of $2,500, the financial plan and your company's growth becomes entirely redundant. 

You need to state your factual finances as they are at present. Your forecast is what you can realistically pull in if you set your mind to it including all the outgoings you may not have thought of like salaries, professional fees, stationery, premises, power, water, insurance, provisional tax (another reason not to grossly overestimate (or grossly underestimate)). 

What is the figure you need for start-up capital? 

What is the figure you need to operate?

Will you buy stock up front or ad hoc?

Even if you're like one of the huge companies that is making massive waves without any assets ie Uber which owns no cars, Alibaba which owns no stock, Airbnb which owns no property or Facebook which creates no content, you're still going to have to find seed money, you're just a little luckier in that you're not having to front up costs for inventory as well. 

While the whole things may sound a little overwhelming and intimidating, it can be truly exhilarating, especially once you start implementing it and seeing results. It's so motivating when you're working within your business and you can see how each step you take, each element you implement, affects the overall company strategy. It's truly transparent and exciting to see progress where before you'd been so engulfed in the mere labour to get everything up and running. 

Remember, if you have questions, or you're launching a start-up and need some guidance, drop us a line - we're always here to help!

How to Stay Positive When You're a New Start-up

In the early days of your start-up, you'll become more akin to a chicken running around with its head cut off, rushing around and feeling emotionally and physically drained from lack of sleep or adequate rest. We often wind up feeling as though we're failing before we've even begun and that in turn creates a negative mindset which affects our everyday ability to succeed. It's important in this tumultuous time that you find ways to keep your cool and and press on. 

1. Wake up to gratitude

When you wake up in the morning, choose one thing, one positive thing to focus on for that day, whether it's a specific project, an attribute of your savvy self, or just the fact that you have this opportunity to pursue your dream. When you infuse your day with positivity, it has a carry on effect over the rest of the day and the people you come into contact with. 

In the start for me, it was the opportunity, the light that poured into the room each morning, a hot cup of my special coffee, my ambition and my drive to achieve.

What's yours?

2. Don't compare

Just as you shouldn't compare your figure to the girls on Instagram, so to should you dissuade yourself from comparing your success with anyone else's. Many people struggle dramatically behind the safety of their mobile screens, the trick is that they don't allow you to see it. You may be struggling now, but we bet even your social media stream only shows the positive. It's a tale as old as time - people don't take photos of the bad times. 

3. Separate your home from your office

Even if you work from home, establish a uniform and separate your office from your home life. Loungewear is fine as long as it's not what you slept in.  Brush your hair, take care of your skin, make yourself look and feel like you're in work mode before going to work in your dedicated office space. You need to be able to separate your work and home lives, most especially when you work from home and it's too easy to take a  two hour movie break on the couch or conversely just send a couple of emails during the night (which never takes less than 2 hours! - we know you know!)

4. Set personal goals

Set your crazy ambitious goals but also set more immediate goals that you can cross off regularly, this helps you to stay on track and makes you better able to achieve the bigger goals when you're have the little wins. 

They can be personal or business goals but make them big enough that you need to push to achieve them but small enough that they're not hugely intensive.

5. Get help

Find a mentor. Hire a Virtual Assistant.  Talk to your friends, family, industry insiders - anything to help you move forward. If you're perpetually trying to do everything yourself, you'll never be able to grow your business past this awkward teething stage. 

How to Control Your Mindset

In order to pursue the promise of a successful business, you need to be mentally tough - resilience is key to any merger, startup or even in relation to your personal goals.

Regardless of what your goal may be, career or personal, you need to have the mental toughness to handle what's thrown at you on a daily basis and have the ability to take a beat and find a solution on the spot when presented with a hurdle.

So how do you do that?

Don't Whine

Complaining and panicking doesn't fix the situation, it only brings you down further as you begin to imagine all the other bad things that could spiral off this one negative occurence.

You inherently know what needs to be done, you know that complaining won't fix the situation, you need to focus on the task at hand - mounting that hurdle - assess the situation, work out what needs to be done and how you're going to make it happen - and then do it. If you need to panic, you tell yourself that you can panic after you've solved it, by which time, there isn't anything to panic about.

Remain in Control

Regardless of where you are in your career or goal, whether you're just starting out or you're a seasoned professional, you need to be relentlessly in pursuit of your passion. You need to develop a tunnelvision for your goal where nothing else interferes. Your thoughts can determine your outlook just as your focus can determine your success. Stay focused, stay in control and on the path through that tunnel to light at the end. Everything you do should in some way benefit your goal and move you further down the tunnel.

Don't Care About What Others Think

Don't rely on anyone's opinion and when someone gives you theirs unsolicited, take it with a grain of salt. The only opinion that matters is your own. Whatever your goal, personal or professional, people will line up to tell you how foolish you are, no matter what it is because people are just bred to troll. In reality, they're frustrated at themselves and jealous because you're doing something they can't, or can't be bothered to do. Unless it is constructive and specifically helps you to build on or achieve your goal, take it with salt and throw it over your shoulder for luck.

Seek Out Change

So many people are terrified of the thought of change, and when it happens, it usually blindsides them into a panic because they didn't see it coming. If you're always prepared for the inevitability of change, if you're actively searching for it, you'll evolve and grow and be able to handle change with grace and aplomb anytime you encounter it while your less-tough counterparts worry and whine in the other room.

Don't be afraid to dream a little bigger darling

Don't limit yourself,your goals shouldn't be small and easily achievable, they should be so big that people think you're a fool for trying, they should mean intensive hard work, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, challenging yourself physically, emotionally, mentally. allow your drive to outweigh your fear and focus on your vision of success. Create a legacy of success and achievement for yourself, don't shy in to the background like a wallflower. You were meant to shine, so switch on.

If it's beyond your control, let it go

There's a great book called "Practicing the Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle wherein this quote is found: "If there is no action you can take, and you cannot remove yourself from the situation either, then use the situation to make you go more deeply... into the now... When you enter ...the present, change often comes about in strange ways without the need for a great deal of doing on your part. Life becomes helpful and cooperative. If inner factors such as fear, guilt, or inertia prevented you from taking action, they will dissolve in the light of your conscious presence"

You can't waste time panicking or worrying about something beyond your control, if you've done your part and it's all you can do, this is where you need to leave it and trust that it will work out for the better. Overanalysis and self-blame are products of our selfconscious and blame shifting society and are elements you need to remove to become mentally tough.

You are no lesser than anyone else. You have unfathomable capabilities. You are astounding, extraordinary. What is in your control, you will master, what is outside of it, you will surpass. The less 'in control' you allow yourself to feel, the easier you start to see the threads of your tightly woven life unravel. Just allow yourself to see past the immediate issue and see only the solution.

How to Hone Your Creative Skills

To be successful, you need to be an expert within your industry, remaining ahead of the competition at all times by honing your skills and generating work rather than waiting for it to come to you. In order to become an expert, you need to know your stuff so look for courses and qualifications that will help you move forward and learn new skills, reassuring customers that they have up-to-the-minute advice and/or the latest products.

If you're qualified, let people see that your qualifications and the letters after your name. Display your qualifications proudly on your wall, make sure there is a full CV available on your website and utlilise social media ton tell the world what you are achieving.

Whatever your creative practice, your skills need to be continually honed. We adapt processes and techniques to suit our genre and by doing, we learn. Keep practising and stay ahead of the game. Be aware of others who are in the same industry, note how others are working and strive to better them.

Technology is rapidly changing, stay on the ball, go with the flow and change. Adapt and change, your skills need to match customer needs.

In this post, I wanted to focus on honing specific skills for use in drawing and sketching:

The art of drawing which is of more real importance to the human race than that of writing…should be taught to every child just as writing is’. – John Ruskin 1819 – 1900

A group of art practitioners meet on Thursday mornings at Ponsonby Community Centre, in Auckland. There are painters, printmakers, ceramicists, interior decorators, architects, fashion designers , engineers, textile experts, engineers, textile experts and comic book producers. Some participants work as G.P’s and physiotherapists but all love the drawing practice. They all work at honing their drawing skills and apply them when sketching ideas, and making presentations in their everyday work and life.

Many of the life drawings are developed and interpreted in other mediums. Painters may incorporate their drawings into paintings and the same applies to print-making and ceramics - life drawing is the equivalent of a pianist or singer warming up by practicing scales.

This life drawing session is untutored and the participants share a model. The artists use a variety of mediums from graphite to pastels and ink and brush. The class runs from 9.30am to 12.30pm and the concentration and effort is palpable. At coffee break, wandering around, looking at everyone’s work is a stimulating experience.

There is a different model each week varying in age and stature. The model begins with six, one-minute action poses then moves onto five and ten minute poses. There are longer poses at the end of the session. The model can stand or sit on the platform, there is a mattress and pillows, or lounge in a chair or perch on a stool. The platform ensures that everyone can see the whole body.

Drawing has played a significant role in human development. Early cave dwellers’ images have given us insight into their hunting and gathering life style. Drawing predates the written language which in itself is a form of mark making. Drawing and mark making is at the root of all visual communication. Through this practice we are able to organise the world visually and to see and understand.

Develop drawing skills and use them to:

  • make images to convey ideas
  • understand the human figure
  • train the eye to see accurately
  • observe emotion and gesture
  • develop a personal visual language
  • generate spacial awareness

As humans it is only natural that depicting our form should play an important role as subject matter.

With serious figure drawing study non-figurative art will be stronger and have more substance. Knowing how the body works and operates in the space it occupies is vital for those who design and make furniture, clothing, houses, schools in fact everything that involves humans.

Be the best in your field. Be receptive to improvements and change, strive for the best and continually look for ways to do things better.

Barbara Bailey CONTRIBUTOR

Barbara Bailey CONTRIBUTOR


How to Proactively Network

While an MBA may help your credibility or investors may help your financial viability, there's no substitute for learning from those who are in the postition you're vying for.

Successful entrepreneurs, people in that ultimate position your goal is to achieve, people who have the life you want - these are the people to learn from, and more often that not, they're willing to fall all over themselves to teach you, if you're willing to learn and put their teachings into practice.

Look at your business - who is your target market? who are your competitors? now, who is the ultimate competitor? who in your industry, do you consider a success story? who would you love to get in a room for an hour and pick their brain?

Make a list of all the people who come to mind from whom you could learn, drawing from a place of knowledge, experience and above all, success.

Once you have the list, write a list of questions that are specific to each of those people. You can't fly by the seat of your pants on this one, if they're giving up their time to help you, you can't be umming and ahhing, you need to be prepared and focused.

Your focus here is to gauge how viable your idea or plans are, to talk to them about their experiences, to learn what worked and what didn't, what they'd do differently given the chance.

While you're there, add to the list, people who can help you in other ways. A Virtual Assistant like Rosie Remotely Virtual Assistants could test your website and see where improvements can be made, they can do online research into your competitors or assess your business processes to identify inefficiencies and help you work smarter, not harder.

Talk to an accountant about your cashflow, they can identify areas where you can be making tax claims and credits that you may not have been aware of.

Talk to potential suppliers and work out who you might want to deal with on a regular basis, get the insider scoop on who in the industry is worth their salt and who is just a fly-by-night operation that won't contribute to your bottom line.

It's not an exact science, what works for some successful people will not work for others, there are so many depending and variable factors that affect success. It's all about trial and error and about education.

Learn as much as you can, find experience and knowledge wherever you can, become an authority on your business and your industry. You are the best person to market and support your business so it's all up to you to go out there and find the people who can help you to leverage your business from a place of experience. They've been where you are, they know your struggle and they can provide you with valuable insight into how they achieved the goal you're so desperately vying to ahieve.

Make an honest effort to absorb as much information as you can and it will dramatically benefit your likelihood of success. There are so many people out there with similar goals, you need to set yourself apart from the rest and through the association with those who have achieved what you're working towards, by learning from them and their experiences, you're better positioned for success than those who try to go it alone.

How to Encourage More Creative Thinking

“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.”
— Frank Zappa

Here's one for all you creatives out there who struggle with writer's / artists's block at times. Artist, Barbara Bailey talks us through her methods for encouraging creative thought:

Be aware of the world around you, take time, notice things, and improve mental wellbeing.

Become more aware of sights, sounds, smells and tastes that you experience.

Be open and receptive to whatever crosses your path and learn from everyday experiences.

Boost creative concepts and practise shaking off mental blocks.

Working in a creative job means continually coming up with good ideas. Stimulus is all around us, often in the least likely place and we need to look carefully.

A small sketchpad and pencil or a camera helps record ideas.

We need to find new ideas to grow and not reinterpret old ideas. Step outside your box, go to a gallery, movie or a part of town that you would not normally visit and be surprised.

On Sunday, I learned that the word 'bach'- the name of an iconic New Zealand beach cottage, is short for 'bachelor'.

This fact amuses me because no one seems to know it and I am sorry that I have never questioned the origin of this word.

Notes on the wall of the exhibition I visited, explained that originally a bach would have been used by used by a bachelor for weekends away, fishing, swimming and surfing. An untidy cottage, it would have been be furnished with spare bits of furniture and abandoned odds and ends.

I spent time at the Maritime Museum in Auckland on Sunday. I was last there when my children were young and that was years ago.

The exhibition, 'At the Beach: 100 years of summer fashion in New Zealand', celebrates changing beach fashions and fun since the early 1900s. It is at the Auckland Maritime Museum and runs until 8th February 2016.

Tucked away in a corner of The Beachwear Exhibition is an original bach complete with tiny freestanding stove, a huge pressure cooker and a collection of odd cups and saucers. The shelves hold ancient boxes of custard powder and tinned fruit.

Next door to the bach is a beach store and I found it hard to leave this atmospheric corner.

Photographs of the labels on bottles and jars, close-ups of the door frames and cupboard handles will provide me with starting-points for collages I am currently working on.

The collection of swimwear in the exhibition is comprehensive and fun. Mannequins are arranged in beach themed tableaux and each group is dressed in period togs. All are portraying good, clean, beach fun. Fashion buffs will love the structured swimwear, most of it pre lycra and stretch fabrics. Along side are early speedboats and surfboards.

Soon we will be peeling off tights and winter woolies and stepping into beach shorts and body-baring dresses.

Most designs currently in the shops are retro; cropped pants, tailored shirts and sun dresses which are distinctly '50s. Why notp pp into the Maritime Museum and have a closer look at the original garments.

Open the mind to to the whole of the museum, mull over what you have seen and something there will surface when searching the brain for a new idea.

At The Beach; 100 Years Of Summer Fashion

Auckland Maritime Museum Runs until 8th February 2016

  • Suitable for: All ages
  • Residents of the Auckland region can visit the Maritime Museum galleries for free if they provide proof of address on arrival
  • Children: 5-14 years old (4 years and under are free)
  • Family Pass = 2 adults & 2 children or 1 adult & 3 children
Barbara Bailey CONTRIBUTOR

Barbara Bailey CONTRIBUTOR


How to Carve Out a Creative Niche

I have had two career paths, three really if I count the one I did to supplement the other two. Making a living as a painter has been practically impossible. I sold work from my studio on Waiheke Island, and from exhibitions in New Zealand and overseas, but income was minimal.

I worked as a fashion designer in Los Angeles and New York before my children were born and since moving to New Zealand work in that field was scarce. I did however have jobs that I loved, teaching drawing, design and painting. These jobs paid for basic living costs.

The two career paths, painting and stitching became intrinsically linked about twenty years ago when i started stitching my painted canvases.

I was travelling to Auckland three days a week from Waiheke Island and started drawing people that I saw on the crack-of-dawn ferry. Faces were stressed and tired and when I tried to translate drawings into paintings it was difficult to capture the nervous tension.

One day, I got out my trusty Janome sewing machine and started drawing with it. I stitched into paintings and the embedded stitches gave a twitchy line that evoked tension while the embedded rows of colour created a wonderful textured surface.

Portrait Stitched / Acrylic / Canvas

These small portraits sold well and inspired me to develop stitched techniques. I pierced large canvases with a stiletto and pushed threads through the holes with a large eyed needle. I stitched my painting with red threads and string to evoke blood, veins, a life line.

Textiles have always fascinated me and cloth that I collected during my time as a fashion designer was cut into garment shapes, painted and stitched.

A raincoat was made from layered newspaper, imported from the north of England where I grew up and pages of the New Zealand Herald were treated in the same way and transformed into a sun dress.

Small cardigans and jumpers with mismatched buttons reminded me of my boys’ little clothes that were always in the wash, shrunk and tatty.

A later collection of work is full of joy. Called Dream Dresses these works on paper are pierced and punched with garment pattern-making tools. They are machine stitched and dance across the page.

Good Girl Dresses are reminiscent of the Viyella dresses my mother made for my sister and I before we went to school. The dresses were smoked and had contrasting Peter Pan collars. I cut the tiny dresses, hand-stitched and painted them and then stitched them onto small canvases.

One never knows in life how things will change. Skills developed at one time and forgotten will suddenly surface and be remembered and used again. I was taught to darn socks at school and last week my partner asked what I could do about a hole in the knee of his jeans. I darned it. Evoked from muscle memory, the knowledge came down through my fingers and off I went.

It is difficult to make a living as a painter. But to have the desire to put paint and colour onto a canvas is something that will never fade. Just do it, when you can. Practice drawing. There is nothing more satisfying than making marks on a clean sheet of paper.

Everything that we see and do in life stays with us. As we age we remember and at the end of life we can utilise skills and have fun with them.

Barbara Bailey CONTRIBUTOR

Barbara Bailey CONTRIBUTOR


Dream Dress Paper / Machine Stitches / Cotton Rag Paper

Good Girl Dress 10 x10cms acrylic/machine stitching/canvas

Robe Lace / Acrylic / Machine Stitches / Canvas

Dream Dress collage/acrylic/machine stitches /canvas20x20cms

How to Revise Your Brand Manners

At some point in the last few years, it somehow became acceptable to interchange adjectives and profanity in business. Even industry icons we've looked up to have begun using them to add extra emphasis to a statement in a professional communication and honestly, it makes our respect for them and their brand drop considerably each time. Call me old fashioned, but I just don't feel that profanity should become part of your business vocabulary, similarly, vulgarity just really has no place in business. 

We're no strangers to cursing, some of us curse often - embarrassingly often in our personal lives but in business, there is no place for it. 

Your brand communication is emblematic of your business and of the person(s) behind it, how you portray your business in your social media, your campaigns and your communications can impact your audience greatly and if that's a negative impact, it can be detrimental to both your business' revenue and reputation. 

It's one thing (and something that needs to be immediately addressed) to be sitting in an office and hear a C-Suite manager liberally sprinkling the 'F-bomb' around every second word or so lightheartedly for emphasis or even worse, hearing it in Board meetings but it's another to emblazon profanity across your public image without hesitation.

It's a cheap attention-getter and effectively tells your audience that you were either too lazy or too dim-witted to find a more eloquent descriptor. It also affects your brand associations - a more conservative brand will be hesitant to partner with you if they feel your brand will sully theirs with your peppering of obscenities in your shared communications or speaking engagements. 

Using profanity or obscenity is not clever or witty, in fact it makes your brand look lazy and unintelligent. It may grab attention from a particular audience but the question you need to ask is whether that audience is really your target or just a way to create a buzz. Yes, your aim is to build a brand following, but if they're not the kind of followers who are likely to convert to clients or influencers, they're a useless audience.

A great copywriter is able to use language eloquently and creatively to stir emotions and communicate efficiently and effectively without ever needing to rely on vulgarity or obscenity to get the job done. 

It's time to create language parameters for your brand and incorporate them into your brand's style and use guide. It's time to rid your brand of bad manners.

Iit's time to invoke 'Brand Manners'.

How to Revise Your LinkedIn Profile

While most social media these days is focused on relaying the latest dramas or posting play-by-play images of meals, LinkedIn is the exception.

LinkedIn is solely focused on your career. Providing both an online resume, a legitimate networking platform and recruitment platform all in one, it can really make or break your job search efforts so it's important to put in the extra time to really hone your profile into an exceptional, professional example.

Fill in everything

There's nothing more dull or uninspiring that a barely there profile. Your page should be a live reflection of your history and your progression as you move through your career. There are a number of fields to fill in and the widget effectively fills it out for you if you give it a little bit to go on.

A gripping Headline - a tagling to sum you up in several words - make them exceptional!

Summary - a little note to sum up your accomplishments, things you're particularly proud of or a glimpse of your personality.

Education, Work Experience - note what qualifications you've gained, what work experience you did to support the qualifications, what jobs you've had and how you've grown through them up the ranks. The point is to show progression, show your learnings, it's like learning Math is school - the answer isn't the most important part, you need to show your work, how you got there.

Recommendations - get friends, clients and coworkers to recommend you and to endorse your skillset to gain additional merit on your profile.

Contact information - link your websites, portfolios, particularly great presentations - anything that supports your resume and history here.

Update Often

Just like a blog, you have a space to post updates. It's also important to share updates, other people's posts, comment or like other posts etc as a way of crafting your personal brand, creating some authority behind your profile photo and networking online. This isn't however a place for personal photos and boozy nights out - this is your professional persona, everything you post should reinforce that version of you. Make sure that your profile benefits from these updates too - everytime you gain a new skill, qualification or job, remember to add it to your profile so people can see your progression.

Start Conversations

Networking in real life is hard, online is much easier. Join in conversations, request to connect with those who you feel would be good people to know and associate with, people who support your career goals. Join in communities related to your career and goals.
Feeling confident? start your own groups and discussions, ask to connect in real life too rather than just profile to profile. .

Your Profile Photo

This one is a biggie. Your profile photo shouldn't be your Facebook profile photo. You're not here to show your hottest selfie or your cat caught in an hilarious position, this is your career, your personal brand. Your profile photo here should be professional. It doesn't need to be stiff, after all it should show a bit of who you are. It depends on your industry. If you're a banker or C-Suite exec, a suited and booted picture is going to suit best, if you're a creative though, you get a little more free reign, wear something a bit sassy but still conservative and professional. Ladies, no drunken photos, short skirts, cleavage, tattoos or facial piercings. It should go without saying, but unless you are a tattoo artist, celebrity or piercing model, it's just not appropriate for LinkedIn.

Have fun with it. Your resume is so limited that you're rarely afforded the opportunity to show your personality, your achievements or your passion for a certain role. LinkedIn is the place to expand on that, or a personal website as we discussed in our previous post. Make your profile an accurate reflection of you and all your skills and strengths out on display in all their glory!

How to Stand Out with a Personal Website

In the rat race of job searching, you're often one of a plethora of applicants with similar skillsets and cvs, near identical experience and form letter cover letters so it's important that you set yourself apart as much as possible to bring your application to the top of the pile.

More and more employers are taking to the web to 'preview' applicants before delving too far down the screening process, so things like social media and blogs can sometimes really hinder your application.

As well as cleaning up your social media, or at the least, your privacy settings, having a personal website and your resume made more visual in this way provides far more insight into you as a person and applicant than your generic cv.

Your chance to shine

A Resume is a place for limited information. You don't have space to tell your story or list all the reasons why you're amazing for this job. Similarly, while your cover letter provides a little more space, they don't want to read a novel, they want the most relevant facts which is why tailoring your cover letter to the role is so important. The downside though is that often, recruiters won't even give you the option to submit a cover letter and so your CV is your only tool in the submission process. Having a link to a personal website on that CV puts the ball in their court. If they want to know more about you, they can go to your site where they can find as much or as little information as you choose to provide and that they choose to scroll through.

Show off your comms skills

If you're searching for a role to take advantage of those killer creative writing skills or perhaps a role copywriting in marketing, this is great way to showcase your talent in a truly creative way without providing official 'samples' that can still seem generic in a pile of submissions. Make sure your website content is tailored to the kind of role you want. For instance, creative copy may work a dream for creative roles but if you're looking for a role that requires more technical or business communication like a role in Policy, the creative content isn't going to win you any fans.

Make sure the recruiters can find you

If a recruiter chooses to search online for you and you have a popular name, you don't want them to encounter your evil name twin in another county who has a record the length of the Great Wall or social media showing how high they are each day. A personal website that links to your specific social media profiles is the best way to ensure that they find the real you online.

Think building a website is a bit too overwhelming? It needn't be. Your site should be thoughtfully planned out to ensure you're not overloading the user with irrelevant information but the actual execution of the website is relatively simple, especially if you get a third party to take care of it for you.

JAGGAR International's Online Services can build a personal brand website for you in no time at all and for a reasonable cost. You can have your website live anywhere between a few hours from booking to a few days depending on the level of content you wish you include. You can even take your personal branding options one step further with matching business cards and stationery.

How to Negotiate (and get what you want)

It's a fact, most women earn less than men in the same roles and while some of that can be accounted for as gender inequality, the sad fact is that a large portion is simply due to women not asking for more - whether it be through a sense of humility or the anxiety around the money question, we simply aren't asking for what we're worth. The converse can actually be true though if we just have some confidence and assuredness of what we're worth. As an example, I have always earned on average, double what any former partner or friend has earned because in business I wear a different face to my day-to-day, I am confident, assertive, I know my worth and my strengths and I self-promote like there's no tomorrow because it's the only place where that quality is revered rather than reviled.

Here we give you our tips for tackling the tricky questions:

Why Do You Deserve a Raise?

Just because you're a woman, doesn't mean you deserve more money. You need to go in there with solid factual evidence as to what you're worth. This isn't isolated to women, men will happily walk in and announce their strengths without hesitation. It's this same moxy that we need to apply to ourselves. Make a list of what you personally contribute to the business, what improvements you've implemented, how those improvements have contributed to the business' bottom line, if you're in sales - how much revenue do you bring in, if you're in account management, list the revenue and quality of clients you bring in.
Self Promote! - I know it's difficult, but in business/ in your career, it's an imperative. Create a mask if you need to, a second face you put on when you need to in these situations to enable you to promote your self and your abilities without hesitation - if you know that you bring in ten times as much revenue as Tim in Account Management, then point it out in cold hard numbers (without referencing poor Tim specifically).

What do you Want?

Great, you have your list together, you have your meeting scheduled, but if your boss asks you the question, you can't choose this as the time to clam up. What precisely are you hoping to gain? - is it job flexibility? a 2% raise in salary? a bonus? Go in there with your base requirements and your wish requirements. For example, you're going for a job interview, you're currently on $65k p.a. and your base requirement is a $5k raise, taking you to $70k as a base salary requirement. Your 'wish' requirement though is $75k and that's what you'll ask for. It's like haggling - you start high and you both work your way to a happy medium which is likely your base requirement (still giving you a $5k raise) but you'll actually find that if you put a good enough case forward and you're confident in what you're asking, you'll usually find that 9 times out of 10, you'll actually get your wish requirement, or closer to it than your base.


Know your worth. You've compiled your list, you know what you want and your list gives you the 'why' but it's here that you'll expand on it. Know who you're speaking to, know their management style so that you can assess how best to get through to them. When you go in to the meeting, if it's say, regarding a raise, the first issue on the table is that you want a raise, you then need to back it up. Here's your internal agenda (definitely* do not *phrase it this way to your manager, this is for your brain only.)

  • I want a raise.
  • This is how much I want.
  • This is why you should give me a raise.
  • This is what other people in this role are earning versus my current income.
  • Here is the evidence to support my request.
  • Based on this evidence, this is why I should get the raise. (reiteration)

Rehearsal and Go Time!

Practice your negotiation conversation with a friend who is impartial ie not someone you work with. If you're not used to negotiations, you're likely to hit the 'umm's and 'ahh's pretty early on so you'll probably need to run through it a few times. Rehearse what you'll say and practice maintaining eye contact and proper posture as you say it. Too many women avert their eyes when talking about money as if it's taboo and it's a dead giveaway that you're not as confident as what you're putting on. You should be firm but friendly, direct - do not ramble or complain, don't get emotional about it, this is a business discussion and your cat's vet bills don't matter in the slightest right now. Rehearse it until you feel confident in every aspect of the conversation and then go in there and put forward your case confidently and assertively.

You can do it, you can be the assertive, self-promoting woman you need to be to get what you want. Negotiating is easy once you get the hang of it, just be confident in your worth and what you're asking for.

How to Turn a Missed Opportunity Into an Opportunity to Shine

Perhaps you were intending to catch a potential client of major industry player at that networking event and narrowly missed the chance or perhaps you're looking to create a relationship with a potential client and don't know where to start.

We have a few tips to help you secure that callback:

You'd planned to chat to a potential client/ big-wig who has some idea who you are but you narrowly missed your window by leaving it too long: 

rather than letting the moment slip by, take the opportunity to send the person a note to say sorry for missing them and how you'd love to speak to them about 'XYZ'.  Don't make it pitchy, short and sweet is far more effective. If you have an established product, you could personalise a 'Swag Bomb' to send or if you provide a service or aren't yet established, try sending flowers (or some kind of alcohol or food to the boys) with a really brief note to get on their radar. Ensure that you include your contact information or at least your website URL if they aren't aware of you personally. We always recommend both because inevitably if you do use a floristry service or the like, they'll leave off something important so ensuring you've added some kind of contact info throughout the note, is the best way to get a call back. 

You Caught Them at the Event and they Expressed an Interest:

This is known as 'warm calling'. They know who you are and what you do and they wouldn't mind knowing more. It's not yet a sales consult though so steer away from the sales pitch and just focus on making an impression.  The general advice out there is to use the ratio call: email: call but nowadays, you'll find that most people let their phone go straight to voicemail if they don't recognise the number, so make sure you've rehearsed your call just in case - nothing worse than a rambling voicemail populated with 'umms' and 'ahhs'. Also, keep it short - voicemail is for short and snappy messages, not audio novellas. 

You Missed Your Opening At the Event and They Have No Clue Who You Are:

This is plain old 'cold calling'. Phone calls aren't the way, emails will likely be ignored immediately, so we recommend sending a physical item (refer to first point above) rather than an impersonal email or call. You'll have more of an impact on the person, they'll have a positive experience of you/ your business before you even meet or chat and they're more likely to call you.

Whatever you do, focus on making an impression rather than a sales pitch. People HATE being sold to. Even if they're interested in the product or service, as soon as you get your sales voice out, they'll tune out. Make an impression- show them who you are as a person, what your company stands for, the quality and reputation of your brand and then work on establishing an ongoing relationship. 

Any career is based on reputation and relationship. Even if you're not in sales per se, you are selling yourself or your brand so it's imperative that what you're selling is a high quality product. Work on it. Make an impression.

How to Tackle Roadblocks: Lessons Learned from 'The Martian'

Image via:

'The Martian' (in cinemas now) is a look at how not to give up when circumstances are deftly against you. 

In the film, Astronaut and Botanist, Mark Watney is left behind on Mars after an emergency evacuation, with his crew under the impression he had been killed. From here, his immediate concern is the antenna sticking out of his abdomen requiring an impressive field surgery after which he has to face that the crew have left and he is on his own. After a couple of days spent feeling sorry for himself, Mark decides this will not be how he dies and sets about making a plan. 

Often in life, you will be presented with a situation that seems insurmountable, it seems easier to give up than to press on with the hope of seeing a better future and it's completely acceptable that your first reaction be that of hopelessness, a brief period of inflection and mourning for what you think you've lost - as long as willing to fight your way out of it. 

Whether your journey is one of entrepreneurship, the push for career progression, the struggle to achieve a personal goal or simply a roadblock in your life causing emotional turmoil, the ability to fight for yourself is paramount. 

Image via:

In life, no one will do the fighting for you. You are alone. You are the sole human on a harsh planet not capable of sustaining life and you need to come up with the solution now as to how you will carry on.

In The Martian, this meant growing enough food to last until someone could reach him, on a planet incapable of growth. It meant fighting to survive harsh climate and crafting (on a daily basis) solutions to the many roadblocks thrown in his path. 

Our first instinct should be to protect and progress, not to give up. In your journey, you will inevitably face multiple, seemingly insurmountable roadblocks and it's how you handle them that defines you.

Here's how to tackle your roadblock:


Once you hit that wall, before you panic - assess the situation. What is the problem? What is hindering you from progressing? Minimise the issue down to logistics - the complete basics, ask yourself 'why' as many times as it takes before you boil down to the base issue - (and no, 'Why Me?' is one question you should not ask.)


Now that you have the base issue, what will you need to get past it?  list off options - as many as you can imagine. Now - how will you get what you need?

If it's a financial issue - how much do you need? what is it for? why do you need that particular figure? how will you get it? how will you ensure this doesn't happen again?

Image via: 

If it's a business/career issue - where are you now? where do you want to be? how is the roadblock stopping you from moving forward. Is it a person? Is it a skill issue that can be learned? Is it a company culture issue? How can you jump this specific hurdle that stands in the way?

If it's personal - what is holding you back? If it's yourself, identify why you may be self-sabotaging - are you imagining that too much will change once you've achieved this? Are you putting too much pressure on yourself? - often we dream that our lives will be entirely different once we've won x competition, lost x amount of weight or achieved personal success and while to our immediate thoughts, this seems like a happy ideal, often in the back of our minds, we self sabotage, we worry about too much changing and being thrown out of our comfort zones or of it not panning out the way we've imagined, making it easier to never achieve it so that we can never truly fail. 

It sounds counter intuitive but pride is what separates us from the pack, whether we're aware of it or not, pride is an enormous part of our decision-making process and so many of us will only attempt what we know we can do well. The hard part is accepting and planning for failure from the start while vehemently believing you will succeed. It's a difficult parallel to stomach but one that we need to to be able to push forward without our subconscious telling us how bad we'll fail on repeat in the back of our minds.


You know what the issue is, what you need to achieve it and how you'll go about it.  Now it's time to put it into action. Luckily, you're not actually physically alone on a desolate planet so you are able to ask for help - just don't rely entirely on it. Lotto or a miracle should not be included in your options.

Future Proof

Now that you've tackled this roadblock, how will you ensure it doesn't happen again? How will you safeguard your work or yourself against similar roadblocks? 

There will always be roadblocks, many of them mild variations of the same thing so if you can become confident in the approach for one, you're likely to be able to handle similar issues with less panic and more aplomb.

You are capable of so much more than you think you are. Make your first reaction one of survival, not of hopelessness and press on, you will get there if you just keep going. Conversely though, you'll never get anywhere if you simply give up. 

Have faith in yourself, you're amazing!

How To Network When You're an Introvert


Networking is probably the most despised necessity of all business related function but it is a necessity. So many CEOs and other C-Suite Manager complain about having to attend networking functions and yet they know the power of word of mouth and connecting with the right people and the opportunities those connections can bring. Even if you’re the most introverted person, supremely awkward in social situations, it becomes necessary to strap on your work face and go to it.


Prepare your elevator pitch so that you’re not 'umming' and 'ahhing' when someone asks you what you do or what your company is about. For JAGGAR, that’s “JAGGAR International is the ultimate online resource that seeks to mentor young women and seasoned executives alike in the pursuit of success and entrepreneurship.”

Short, sweet and to the point, then if the person wants to know more, you should have a couple of reinforcing statements prepared i.e. if the person asks how we aim to achieve our mission:

“By providing an online meeting place for likeminded women to gather and ask questions, create opportunities for networking, workshops and online learning to grow their skillset and help them to achieve their goals.”

This lends an air of confidence and professionalism to your first impression for even the most timid introvert.

Dress professionally and conservatively.

Cover up your tattoos – personally, I have seven tattoos that I’ll proudly display on the beach in summer or in my personal time but if I’m meeting people I don’t know, meeting the inlaws or potential business associates, the tattoos are invisible.

Choose an outfit that has character but is professional. You shouldn’t opt for the standard black skirt, white shirt, blazer combo if that’s not your style because you’re going to look uncomfortable and likely fidgeting with your outfit. Choose something you feel confident in but which won’t draw the entire crowd’s attention in a negative way.

A nice shift dress, a tailored suit – anything tailored to you will look amazing, covering up the obvious conservative no-nos and ensuring that your outfit is pressed, clean and the correct fit will go a long way to helping with your confidence in a networking situation.

Make sure your hair and make-up are tidy, carry breath mints and ensure that you haven’t overloaded on Chanel No. 5 a little too much before you leave the house.

If you’re really not the networking type, take a friend or colleague along or if you’re a freelancer, match up with other freelancers and attend together. Having a buddy with you means that you can quickly escape certain conversations and can back each other up when necessary – including pulling the escape rip-cord when it’s time to get out!

How to Regain Your Most Valuable Asset

Whether you're an entrepreneur just wetting your feet or you're a seasoned executive, time is your most valuable asset and it's also the most wasted, especially in a startup where you're just not ready to delegate tasks because your business is your entire identity at the start and you need to ensure that your company starts off the way it means to go on. 

The downside to trying to do everything yourself though is that often, you let your company down by not producing work to the standard you would if you had more time or delivering late because you didn't have the resource and struggled to do it all alone. 

A Virtual Assistant is your secret weapon - they work remotely and they're contractors so you don't have to commit to an FTE resource and you have none of the headache of working out PAYE, KiwiSaver, FBT or ACC levies which is invaluable at the beginning when you find it hard to let go and you don't have the time or the funds to commit to a dedicated resource. 

Virtual Assistants work on either an hourly rate, a project rate or a monthly package deal and allow you to truly customise your level of assistance to what best suits your business. Working out what tasks to delegate is the hard part but you'll often find that they can do it all and just having a consultation with a Virtual Assistant can help you work out where your biggest roadblocks are and where they can best assist you.  Most will focus on administrative tasks - the likes of which you'd ordinarily delegate to a Personal Assistant while others (like Rosie Remotely), offer a far wider range of services extending to graphic design or website design and population. 

Here are a few tasks that can be delegated to a Virtual Assistant courtesy of the New Zealand based Virtual Assistant service, Rosie Remotely. 

Inbox Management and Calendar Scheduling - A Virtual Assistant can manage your calendar, scheduling meetings and appointments or planning events and conferences. They can also filter your most important emails and respond to others on your behalf, freeing up your time and allowing you to focus solely on the messages that are directly relevant to your role and voice.

Proofreading / Editing - Spelling mistakes leap off the page at us and both spelling and grammatical errors are our biggest pet peeves. Offering a full proofing and editing service, A Virtual Assistant will take an in-depth look at your documents, marketing materials or authorial manuscripts and correct any spelling or grammatical errors, taking the initiative to enhance content fluidity where required. This is especially popular with authors.

Documents & Presentations - Do you need assistance to make that PowerPoint presentation exciting? As advanced users of a number of software packages, your Virtual Assistant can utilise all of the effects and settings available to really make those presentations engaging.

Database Entry / Maintenance - You've recently picked up a slew of new potential clients from a tradeshow, you have a wealth of product information to enter or you just need to organise a bulk amount of information into one easy to navigate database. Trust your Virtual Assistant's  error-free fingers to do the entry and maintenance for you. 

Digitising Printed Material - Whether it's decades old company records you only have in hardcopy, a manual from before the digital age or even family records you need organised and digitised for future use, it can be digitised because a Virtual Assistant has the time and the attention to details to carry it through.

Dictation and Transcription - One of the fundamental tasks for a Virtual Assistant - simply send an audio file and choose clean or full verbatim and you'll swiftly have your rambling notes or corporate document transcribed without the headache of sitting down to create it yourself. 

New Business Setup & Companies Office Administration - Seasoned Virtual Assistants will be used to dealing with the Companies Office, filing annual returns, updating shareholder information or nominee shareholder records and can make the entire process seamless. This comes in extra handy when you're first starting out and don't know how to register your business.

Marketing Collateral - Virtual Assistants are able to create engaging straight to print brochures, newsletters and other marketing materials that are ready to send to the printers with no additional rework required, even facilitating the publishing aspect for you.

Research - One of the easiest tasks to assign to a virtual assistant is online research. Whether you need to find information on corporate websites, do market comparisons on products or services, source new blog topics, find your desired slice of real estate for sale,or you need to get into nitty gritty statistical research, a Virtual Assistant can take on the task to give you the results without the time waste.

Website Creation, Content Population & Site Maintenance - Premier Virtual Assistants like those of Rosie Remotely are well versed in CSS, HTML and web design. They can also take on the maintenance of your existing sites and domain management and renewals to ensure your site's uninterrupted continuity or create ongoing content to populate your site to keep it fresh.

Travel Research & Bookings - Virtual Assistants are able to find hotels, book airfares and research sample itineraries to map out your perfect trip whether that be for business or pleasure and they most always have vast experience both in direct bookings and working with corporate agencies.

Event Management - Workshops, training seminars, conferences, staff events and client functions are hard work if you haven't done them before but a Virtual Assistant can take the stress out of the event and run them for you. 

Personal Errands - Often (whether you're a seasoned executive or a newbie entrepreneur), your personal life falls by the wayside as your focus is laser-sharp solely on the business. A Virtual Assistant can pick up the slack and help you both professionally and personally. They can't go and get that haircut you've had to cancel seven times now but they can arrange your drycleaning, your groceries, travel and mail pickups - anything you can think of, they can do. 

Rosie Remotely is New Zealand's premier virtual assistance service offering clients exceptional, professional assistance - worldwide and on any timetable, allowing your business to reclaim lost time without the HR headache or FTE expense.

Hot to Job-Hunt Effectively

Update your resume

Before even considering applying for new jobs, ensure that your resume is up to date – check contact info, check spelling and grammar and ensure that your roles and responsibilities that have been added since the last time you applied for a job have been included in your resume.

Refresh yourself with your resume

Read your resume yourself before submitting and refamiliarise yourself with the roles and responsibilities you’ve had so that you’re better able and better prepared to answer indepth questions on a phone or in person interview. You should be able to rattle off your skills or examples of specific scenarios from that role without hesitation.

Say yes to agencies

You know the drill, you’re applying for a job through an agency and you get a callback and a pre-interview only to find that you aren’t even being considered for the job you applied for, they just want you on their books. Ok, so some do just want to fill a quota, but for the most part, they legitimately want to have you on their books because they can place you in something even better suited. Go the agency interviews and put your best foot forward. If you’re the right candidate, they will fall all over themselves to place you in the right role. Be the right candidate. Be willing.

Prepare for your interview

Again, refresh yourself with your prior roles and responsibilities. Think of the kind of things you’ll be asked and prepare answers for them. There’s nothing worse than being asked a question and having no answer or fumbling your words trying to mash something together on the spot.

Don’t badmouth former employers

This should go without saying but if you bad mouth former employers you’re letting the company you’re interviewing with know that you’ll likely do the same to them. You’re also depriving yourself of a reference and setting yourself up as a negative Nancy – no one wants to hire a negative Nancy.

Play up your strengths

Know your strengths, recite them, and tell yourself your strengths often. Even if your strengths aren’t relevant to the specific questions, make them relevant. Speak confidently on the things about yourself you’re proud of. Job interviews and life are very different. I always looked at it as having two faces or two masks. One is your humble, self-deprecating self who still finds it difficult to accept compliments and underplays their achievements out of humility while the other is self-promoting, self-confident, self-assured, sassy and eloquent and it’s because f this that I interview really well. The ability to flip a switch and become a different version of yourself is so helpful in scenarios where you need to promote yourself in this way. That’s not to say though that the other mask should vary wildly from who you are. It does need to be wholly reflective of your abilities and personality because it will quickly become apparent if it was all a falsity and with a 90 day trial period you can be back out of a job with no real reason. Fashion a mask that is simply a heightened, more confident version of yourself and use it solely for work based scenarios.

Disguise your weaknesses in strengths

You’ll always be asked what your weaknesses are in an interview, just as you will your strengths. Some people take honesty as the best route however telling your potential new employer that in the afternoons you get lazy and tune out isn’t a big ‘hire me’ incentive.

Decipher your weaknesses and reword them into strengths. Be careful around wording too because in some instances even your strengths can become weaknesses. Telling me you’re a perfectionist tells me it’s going to take forever to get work from you because you won’t be able to stick to a deadline.

Know your worth

Both financially and from an internal values perspective, know what you’re worth. Know your strengths, know what you can provide in this role, know how you can change the way they do things because of XYZ inherent traits you have. Research similar roles and work out what they’re earning. Look at what the role is offering and your current salary and work out what you’re worth. Be ready to say no if it’s dramatically lower or if it’s a role you really want, be prepared to accept less to get a foot in the door.

Preparation helps you immensely when the money question comes up – which it always does, but you can make it swift and painless by simply responding telling them you’re currently on $XYZ, you’re looking for $ZXY but that you would potentially look at $YZX for the right role. Don’t be afraid to ask for more, don’t be afraid to self-promote. In this instance, you’re not cocky or self-absorbed, you’re promoting yourself the way you’d sell a product or service. You need to become a you-fanatic if you want others to feel the same.