Here we area again, another week and another blog from me.
Last week I spoke about getting my business up and running in terms of registering a business name and domain name, setting up a website, designing a logo and some of the technical issues I had to overcome to get where I am today.
So with all of the background things now set up it was time for me to get out there and get known, market myself and my business so I can make a real go of it, and of course, get some paid work.
I found the best place to start is to network. Having been in the local government sector for over 10 years I have a lot of contacts, so what a great place to start. I also have a number of ex colleagues who have started up their own consultancies in their specialist area, so it was time to get out there and make it known that I now had my own business and was ready, willing and able to do some work in the consulting world.
"Having been in the local government sector for over 10 years I have a lot of contacts, so what a great place to start."
I also thought I would contact a number of local Council's around my area to let them know about the type of work I've been doing over the last 10 years and what Out of the Box Consulting can offer them. So I contacted them by letter and followed up a week later with a phone call. Not all of them resulted in getting a meeting, but it was a start, and two out of five isn't bad.
So most of this week I have been talking to people, handing out business cards, sending emails and letting people know that I'm here, and I'm happy to help. Not only have I spoken with a couple of Council's but I've also touched base with an environment group and some potential tourism opportunities. The only scary thing is that what if I get too much work? But we'll have to cross that bridge if and when we come to it.
"So that's how I need to market myself. An expert in local government marketing and communications."
It was mentioned to me this week, in one of my many conversations, that I really can offer a great service to local Council's who generally will pay big dollars to get an expensive consultant from a city firm who has no experience in working within the challenges that face local government. That was a real confidence booster for me, because I thought, that's it, they're right, that is my point of difference. I know how local government works, I can work within the limitations that often face us, I can work within a tight budget, providing quality services that will reach the target market without spending huge dollars. So that's how I need to market myself. An expert in local government marketing and communications.
At the moment I'm currently running two community consultations for two different Council's on a next to nothing budget. In fact for one of them we've really spent nothing but time, with most of the consultation happening on line using the Council's website, e-newsletters, along with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. We've also contacted local schools and had community stalls in two shopping centres, and put entry forms and boxes in Council's customer service centres, library, youth centre and Visitor Information Centre all at no cost. This has generated over 700 responses to our on-line survey, which is a fantastic response considering the financial outlay has been nothing.
I'm really excited about the possibilities of working with a variety of different people in different areas. I love what I do and I'm passionate about helping others. It's also so good to feel valued for your knowledge and expertise.
Next week I'll tell you about some of the other projects I have worked on over the years. Until then have a great week, and remember that networking is the key to opening doors.
Here we are again, blog number two from me. Yet another week has passed us all by and here I am, sitting at my computer thinking about what I'm going to write about today.
As a relatively new business I thought I might write about how I got started and about some of the challenges that have faced me along the way.
I had been thinking about starting my own business for a while, but was always too scared to take the first step. All I needed was a push in the right direction, something significant to change the course of my career. That happened suddenly earlier this year and so I thought - what the hell, let's jump in, give it a go, and see what happens!
First of all, as anyone with a marketing mind like myself would know I needed to think of a clever name for my business. I brain stormed ideas for about 3 hours one afternoon, and didn't come up with anything I really loved. Then the next morning at about 3am it came to me - Out of the Box - yes that sounds catchy, it's relevant to marketing, I hope I can get that, but I bet someone else has registered it already. Luckily, when I went onto the Business Name Registration website I found it was available, so I checked that a domain name was available also, and it was, so I registered both straight away, and suddenly here I was the owner of Out of the Box Consulting.
Yep - that's right a business owner with a registered business name and a registered domain name and nothing else.
Again with my marketing hat on I thought right, now I need a logo, and a website. So they were the next steps. Now for me I know how to get a logo designed - just ask your friend the graphic designer right?! But how do I create a website? I looked around, but some of the costs are in excess of AU$2K. Which is fine if you're an established business with money to spend, but this was me, just starting out, with my own money in the bank. So I looked on line (Google of course) at how to create a free website, and found a few, but I'd heard of Weebly so I thought I'd give that a go. So I got my content together, and once I thought it looked pretty good I pressed publish, but nothing happened. Instead I got a message something to do with DNS to your web host, or needing an IP address or something. Now I told you in my last blog I'm no technical expert, so I thought, OK, what does this all mean? It took me a while to figure it out, but eventually I thought, of course, I need a website host. (Anyone technical reading this will be thinking "duh", but if you've never done it before and don't have many technical expertise, you really have no idea). I've brought my domain name, but I now need a company to host my website for me!!
So what do you think I did next? Of course, I Googled it! And I found a list of website hosts, so who do I choose? I was trying to get someone in Australia, but the one I phoned turned out to be in the US called Just Host. They were helpful enough, so I signed up with them on a 3 year plan. They talked me through all the IT garble which I didn't really understand, and I managed to point my website to them, and set up an email account as well. They even worked through how to link my email account to my iPhone, so I can respond to emails without having to log on to the computer, which is great when you're not always at your desk.
When I finally had it all figured out, my website went live and I started using my email address, I was so proud of myself. I had achieved all of this by myself, with no help from anyone. In the corporate world if you have an IT problem you call the help desk and they fix it. But when you start up you're own business you are the help desk and everything else, so if it's broke you have to fix it, or you have to figure out how.
Now with all of this background stuff done, and everything up and running it was time I started getting some business, and making myself known, actually marketing myself for a change. So that was the next step and something that I'm still working on and can write more about in my blog next week if you like.
Until then, have a great week, and remember with communication the possibilities are endless.
Take care, Nicola :)
This is my first ever blog, so let's hope that you find it interesting and get something out of it. I am going to try and blog about something at least once a week, so lets see if I can live up to that promise.
I'm hoping that I can make my blogs useful to the reader, so that you can learn something, and take it away to apply to your own business.
The other day I sat down at my desk and had a Skype chat with a colleague, John Young from Young Digital Group http://youngdigitalgroup.com.au/. John is an expert in Digital Media, which is useful, because I'm definitely no expert when it comes to the on-line stuff, but I'm learning and experimenting and keeping my mind open to the endless possibilities that online communication can do to help your business.
John was teaching me how to set up Google + and Google Hangouts, and the benefits that having these tools can have for your business. I was surprised to see what it could do. I assumed it was much like Skype, and it is similar in some ways, but it allows you to do so much more.
For example, you can have up to 10 people in your Google Hangout online chat. You can have a couple of people presenting, whilst the others listen and post questions to the presenters. You can share documents, or videos, allowing viewers to see the documents or videos as you talk through it. You can also live stream your video to You Tube, or record it and post it later.
It's a little daunting for non tech heads like myself, however I found it interesting, and feel that it could be very useful in effectively communicating with clients in other states or countries.
Have a look at the You Tube video John created, which talks you through how to create a Google + account and how to use the different functions available to you.
Let me know if this is useful to you, and perhaps let me know what you would like me to discuss in my next blog post.
Until then - let the endless possibilities of communication expand your mind!