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    Category Archives: business tips

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    How to relocate your business overseas

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    By Diana Scully

    As I write you this post, I am sitting in a Los Angeles cafe enjoying a pretty good cup of coffee (my standards are high given I’m from Melbourne!) and using the free wifi available. This has been my “office” for most of this year, as I spend time in the USA.

    I am an interior decorator and manage my own business, both in person (when I’m in Melbourne) and via an on-line decorating service I offer through my website, Spaces by Diana. This year, my husband and I decided to spend some time in the US to advance and promote his start-up business, Sports Where I Am. Along with all the issues associated with moving overseas, this year has been a big learning curve (huge!) in understanding how to re-establish my business in another country. If this sounds like something you plan to embark on, and assuming that you have already sorted out all the other generic issues associated with relocating overseas (visa requirements, accommodation and healthcare), then let me share with you some helpful tips to get you on the right track!

    What sort of business do you operate?

    I think its safe to say that not every business is easily transferable to another country. Most notably, if you work for yourself and operate an on-line business, this sets a good foundation as it gives you control and flexibility in your work. In addition, these other characteristics may also assist in a smooth(ish) transition:

    + Your industry is established in your new destination.

    + You can still maintain relationships with existing clientele from home.

    + Your business already has a market presence or connections with people/companies in your new country.

    For me, interior design in the US has a great influence on the Australian market. I decided that if I could tap into this market by setting up trade accounts with furniture designers in the US, I was able to offer my Australian clientele, a greater selection of ideas and products to furnish their homes. In effect, I could become the conduit between the two markets and draw and source inspiration from the US to Australia.

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    What’s the purpose of your relocation?

    This is an important consideration as any effort to relocate your business to another country is BIG work. If you understand the purpose of your relocation, this will then assist you with setting the right goals and time frames for your business. You may find yourself having to start over again if you do not already have a presence in your new country.

    For me, our greatest motivation was to set up and grow my husband’s business in the US, rather than expand my interior decorating business. While I personally believed (and still do) that relocating to the US has only been beneficial for me, it has required me to reconsider my services in the market and assess the suitability of my existing and future clientele. This has consequently led me to build great relationships with US furniture designers, as well as expand my on-line services.

    What’s your new market and who are your competitors & clientele?

    Preparation and planning is vital before your departure. I recommend some initial ground work about your industry in your new country. As part of my research, I considered the following issues:

    + Is my industry established in your new country?

    + Are there existing businesses already in my space that offer a similar service? Can I offer something different?

    + How long will it take to grasp my new market? How will it impact my operating business?

    + How will I market myself? How will I network to get my name out there?

    After all this research, I knew it was important for me to develop relationships with furniture designers in the US, expand my on-line decorating services, and network with local designers/creatives by attending workshops in order to establish and grow my business overseas.

    Other considerations…

    Regardless of your industry and business style, you will also need to keep in mind these issues:

    + Are there any legal barriers you need to be aware of in relocating your business? Visa requirements? Do you need to register your business? Tax implications for both your new country and home country?

    + Where will you work from? Home, office, shared workspace, coffee shop?

    + Will any time difference affect your relationships and communications with clients or customers?

    + What items are fundamental to setting up your business in a new country? For example: laptop, internet, bank account etc?

    As a very minimum, it is certainly wise to get in contact with a good Accountant and Lawyer in the initial stages prior to your departure, (you may even need one in your new country too).

    Make friends.

    You are in a city that you don’t know, immersed in a culture you don’t understand, away from all your familiarities, including your local supermarket, doctors, hairdressers and good local coffee shop. You can’t underestimate the importance of connecting with people, forming friendships and networking. This is integral to your survival in a new location and good time should be invested in this aspect of relocating.

    When my husband and I arrived in LA, we didn’t know anyone. A friend of mine connected us with an Australian living in LA, so we arranged to meet him in our first week. Fortunately, he was a superstar and we have become great friends. He has introduced us to his family and circle of friends, both Australian and local. He’s also been a great source to ask questions about working overseas including, recommendations where to work, how to open a bank account, finding a good immigration lawyer, locating the equivalent Officeworks etc… Tap into your social networks and let your community of friends know where you are moving to. Someone should know someone they can recommend you to meet!

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    Here’s the basics to get you started.

    + Do the initial research - if you are still keen, go for it!

    + Find a shared workspace close to home and join a communal table. Here you’ll find like-minded people you can chat to about work, as well as the local area. You will also have good access to the internet, phones, printers and other office-related tools. If you are in the US, check out We Work and grab a monthly pass to gain access to their communal work spaces.

    + Alternatively, if you choose to work from home, set yourself up with the basics, including a desk, chair, lamp and storage. If you are in the US, check out Craigslist to pick up some good second hand finds in your local area.

    + Crunch the numbers. To establish your business in a new market may take some time… so if possible, set up a bank account with some savings (three months would be ideal). This will also allow you to attend networking events, seminars in your industry and join a couple of organisations related to what you do.

    + Set up a bank account (and credit card) in your new country so you can access local currency immediately and start earning a good credit history to your name.

    + Join a local gym or social club to meet people in your area, spread the word about who you are and what you do. As I said earlier, connection with people is vital to your success as an individual and also your business.

    While this may all sound a little daunting, I can honestly say, it has been worth every bit. Having the opportunity to relocate overseas with your business is one of life’s greatest opportunities. But keep in mind, it should not be romanticised too much as it can be a challenging transition. From experience, being passionate about what you do, doing the initial research and believing in your business, sets the foundations for success and will keep you on the right track.

    Where possible, be ready to adapt your business. As much as you try to plan your road ahead, inevitably things don’t always go as your envisaged. But hey, that’s ok. You are after all, not in Australia any longer – and that’s the point, right?

    Wishing you safe travels and all the success in work!

    Diana Scully is the founder of Spaces by Diana, a residential interior decorating business that offers personal and on-line services to inspire you to find real solutions to design a home that’s a reflection of you. Read her blog, Spaces + Places, and follow her on Instagram for genuine, cool interior inspiration for your home.

    {All images sourced via Death to the Stock Photo}


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: business tips, guest blog, how to, my advice | Comments Off
    Posted on

    Advertising tips for small creative businesses

    Today’s post is by guest blogger Jes Egan of Paper Chap. Welcome, Jes!

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    Creativity is in my blood. I come from a mad creative family and I had a pretty conservative schooling, which I tried to conform to, but in the end the creative flair won and I went and studied design at university. Being surrounded by creative people is inspiring and a guarantee you’ll get a taste for coffee or wine. Or both, as in my case. Upon graduation, I went travelling. However, in fighting some of the madness of my upbringing, a sensible and practical person developed alongside my creativity. So instead of sticking to being a designer, I went to what I aptly call the ‘dark side’ and became a ‘suit’ in the account management department of some of the biggest advertising agencies in the UK and Australia.

    Now days, my brain is back in creative mode and I run my own little business, Paper Chap. My creative outlet, illustrated and hand cut paper cuts that I can make with love. My practical side still exists however, and it is possible to be creative and business minded, it just doesn’t always come naturally. I share my practical side with design students, lecturing in ‘Design and Business’ at Billy Blue College of Design.

    My past life in big-brand advertising has taught me many things that can be applied to a creative business and successful brand.

    Find your point of difference.

    There is so much competition, there are other companies who do what you do, just under a different brand. But you will have a point of difference (POD), this might be service, design, price, it can be anything that is a benefit to the end user and is different to your competitors. Find out what yours is, if you can’t pin point what it is then neither will your customer. Once you know what your POD is you can use this to your advantage. We are so used to choice these days, we expect it and we make informed purchasing decisions daily. Stand out from your competitors, be bold and show how you differentiate yourself.

    Know your audience.

    It doesn’t matter what type of business that you are in, knowing your audience is paramount. You can waste time, effort and money targeting the wrong audience. Depending on what you do there are numerous different ways to find out who your audience are and if you are a small business one of the best ways to do this is look at your existing clients/customers. So many key learnings/insights can be taken from them.

    Be targeted.

    When you know who your audience is target them specifically, this will save you time, effort and money. For example if your audience frequent certain types of websites or publications, or favours Facebook over LinkedIn, put your time and efforts into those places. Be it paid advertising or just doing it on your own, you are eliminating wastage and sending your message to places where your audience is.

    Chose your social media sites carefully.

    You don’t have to use all the social media channels out there, chose what will reach your audience best and focus on those. Don’t over stretch yourself, if you are selling a creative service or product then visual channels might work best for you such as Instagram or Pinterest. If you sell a service then maybe LinkedIn, Twitter etc are better. It will be depend on where your audience is participating in social media as to where you need to be.

    Be on message.

    Often businesses try and cram every message they want to say into a very small space. This can dilute your message and make it really confusing for your audience to understand what you are trying to get across. Try and stay single minded. Even if it is a tweet or a Facebook post, if you have two things to say, do two messages. It might sounds simple and that is the point, it should be simple. It will take little time and effort and be more effective.

    It is better to pay more for fewer ads in the right places than less for multiple ads in the wrong places.

    Does paying for advertising work? Given my background, this is often a question I am asked. Without doubt, it you have the budget to pay for advertising then yes it can pay off. It can build your brand awareness and potentially convert into sales and hopefully you’ll get a decent return on your investment. But if you’re going to do it, do it properly. Make sure your creative is on message, targeted and made well. Also, make sure you are hitting your audience – don’t try hit the masses by buying cheap ad spaces across as many channels as you can. It goes back to knowing your audience. Don’t let your add get lost or ignored.

     

    Putting yourself and your creative business ‘out there’ can be easier said then done, I know. Particularly if your heart is entrenched in what you do, which is often the case in the creative world. But there are so many ways to put effectively advertise and market your business while staying true to your values and integrity, it’s just about making an educated decision on which avenue you want to explore and being creative with your budget.

    Jes is a ‘practical creative’ with a past life in advertising. These days Jes is an artist, lecturer, and small business owner who can be found cutting up a storm at paperchap.com. Follow Jes on Instagram and Facebook

    {Image by Jes!}


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: advice for students, business tips, guest blog, my advice | Comments Off
    Posted on

    5 Tips for Keeping a Positive Mindset When Things Aren’t Going to Plan

    5 Tips for Keeping a Positive Mindset When Things Aren't Going to Plan by Dannielle Cresp on Creative Womens Circle

    Sometimes we have periods where our businesses are going great-guns. It’s hard work but things are moving quickly and in a forward direction. Nothing but awesome – it’s a great place to be. But there are also times where we might start to wonder why things aren’t going to plan, and why it feels more like we’re treading water (even if it looks awesome from the outside looking in).

    Here are some tips to work with that.

    • Take a break and get away from work. This could be an hour or two in a coffee shop or a weekend away, or even a weekend where you just do anything but work. Clear your head and give it a chance to see the forest for the trees. It can feel counter productive to step away when tasks are piling up and you feel like you should be doing more to fix the situation, but you have to take care of you to take care of your creative business.
    • Confide in someone you trust. Even if they can’t give advice, they can help share that load weighing on your mind. They might have some creative solutions, or they might just be someone who’s got your back. We all need them, in good times, but especially when times feel bad. Having someone to remind you of something funny always helps.
    • Come up with a plan. Yes, things aren’t feeling great, but now’s your opportunity to turn the situation around. Identify the things that aren’t working and write them each on their own pieces of paper. Turn your favourite music on, dance, and start to think about how you can use those things (focusing on one at a time) as jumping-off points for something much better. Sometimes it’s in the most frustrating problems that we find the best solutions.
    • Dream big and then dream small. Things aren’t going to plan? You realised that this just isn’t working as it is? Now is a great time to start thinking about what does work for you. Ask yourself: What’s the ‘big picture?’ Got it? Now dream small and turn it into actionable goals. Remember that nothing is a straight sprint to “Hell yeah!”, it’s more like an obstacle course.
    • Do something that fills you with energy. When things aren’t going well, it can feel like there’s no time to do the kind of work that fills you with energy and makes you feel great. Try to find 15 minutes to an hour a day to do the task that reminds you what that great feeling feels like. Even if you have to ride the less than great times out, this will give you something to hold onto during those times when you need it most.

    All of these things have helped me when things in my creative business haven’t been going as planned. When I came out the other side, I had all these things in my armoury, plus the knowledge that the tough times don’t last forever. Even if things are going great right now, it can be good to make a mental plan of who to reach out too and what it is that always fills you with energy. Here’s to more good times than bad!

    Dannielle is a blogger, serial organiser and passionate traveller. She has a secret love of 90s teen movies and can often be found hanging out on Pinterest. She is on a mission to help people bring happiness (and fun) back into their homes with a dash of organisation and a sprinkle of their own awesome style over at her blog Style for a Happy Home.


    Posted by: Dannielle Cresp
    Categories: business tips, organise me, regular columns | Comments Off
    Posted on

    Create a mood board to clarify your brand

    By Susan Goodwin

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    Despite not always wanting to admit it, as creatives who sell our work or creative services, we ‘are’ our brands. And in the online space, the visual impact of your brand matters more now than ever before. Having a strong cohesive look to everything from your website and social media accounts, to your email marketing and printed promotional pieces, has become increasingly important. 

    For this reason, it’s worth regularly standing back to have a look at the elements of your brand and how they are represented visually, and if that representation accurately reflects who you are and what you do.

    Ask yourself: Do they all look like they came from one place? Or are they completely varied and share none of the same visual clues? Do they tell a story or show you something you want to buy or be a part of?

    If your communications are leaving you feeling less than stellar about your brand, then don’t become disheartened. Like any marketing exercise, it simply might be time for you to start reigning in your ideas, and focus.  One way this can be achieved is ti create a mood board for your brand.

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    A mood board will create a visual look for your brand so that each time you need to take a photo, use a font, or create a marketing piece you can draw inspiration from the same source material. This way, instead of having a disjointed message, you will be providing a strong clear visual that backs up the presence of your brand.

    Ideally, your mood board should:

    • be a collection of images that give you inspiration.
    • have images that show the ideals of your brand.
    • showcase your aesthetic.
    • depict colours, fonts, and styles of imagery that work together and that provide a practical resource you can refer to when creating communications.

    But, most importantly, every time you look at your mood board it should make you feel inspired, it should remind you of your goals and all the things you want to achieve in your creative business.

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    In terms of actually creating a mood board, there are many options. Your mood board can be virtual, using a platform like Pinterest; you could create one using Illustrator or Photoshop; or you could make yourself a coffee, grab a stack of magazines and get to cutting and assemble one on a cork board for above your desk (or if you’re really pressed for space, just take over the refrigerator door!).

    Mood boards are fun to make and a constant source of inspiration. And remember, they can change. As your brands grows you can add or subtract your source imagery. It won’t stop you from being spontaneous and taking a perfect Instagram image on the spur of the moment, but it might just help to bring your brand and business intentions into focus and create a better visual language.

    {Image credits: Screenshot from our Pinterest page; other images by Susan.}

    Susan Goodwin is the designer, sewer and creator of Rocket Fuel, ensuring you are decked out in style while cycling. Read her blog or follow her on Twitter @rocketfuelstyle.

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    Posted by: Susan
    Categories: business tips, regular columns | Comments Off