Is my mobile office a pipe dream?

When I started my writing business, part of the dream was being able to work from anywhere. While that is now quite feasible, I still spend most of my work hours plugged into an office. It begs the question: does the reality of the ‘laptop lifestyle’ live up to the dream?

Settle in. This could take a decade … or two.

As I sat across the table from a marketing manager to discuss a new project, I realised I’d been here 10 years earlier! It was the fourth company, the fourth website, the fourth brief, but the same four people at the table. Am I stuck in Groundhog day?

Let’s talk politics, religion, vaccinations and equality… or not.

by Peter Crocker When it comes to building a personal profile and finding clients, social media is valuable for many soloists. But should passionate opinions be curbed by professional restraint? Or does authenticity demand unfiltered honesty? I recently came across outspoken blogger and bestselling author, James Altucher. James bares his soul in brutally honest writings about his life, failures, successes, …

Dear Business, we need to talk about ‘us’

by Peter Crocker We’ve shared some incredible times, you and I. What a rollercoaster! But – and I know you’ve noticed too – things have changed. We need to talk. I remember dreaming about you before I even knew your name. I’d talk endlessly about you to my friends, hoping that maybe one day we would get our act together. …

Could you be tempted to re-run the rat race?

by Peter Crocker It’s easy to get the impression that everyone in corporate land is quietly plotting their escape from the rat race to run their own business. But, it’s not a one-way street. In Flying Solo’s last Understanding Micro Business survey, 90% of business owners said that they would not seriously consider working for someone else, even in a …

We are the soul traders

by Peter Crocker Describing a ‘typical’ solo business owner is like trying to describe an ‘average’ person. But as diverse as we are, those in the flourishing soloist movement share many tribal similarities. We are the third bedroom dwellers, the kitchen table perchers, the café lurkers. We are the CEO, CFO, CIO, COO, cleaner, accountant, IT fixer, debt collector, sales …

Are you banishing the bland?

by Peter Crocker I recently saw an interview where the questioner asked, “What do you fear most?” The unexpected and thought-provoking response was “Living a bland life.” It got me thinking how from the day you’re born, the world tends to knock the edges off you. Your personality. Your aspirations. Your curiosity. Your imagination.

Meet Crocks: Australia’s #1 bloke

by Peter Crocker Imagine if we spoke about ourselves the way some businesses speak about themselves. Imagine no more, Crocks is using marketing jargon and talking himself up.

Challenge: Design YOUR ideal working week!

by Peter Crocker Each year or so I embark on a lifestyle or productivity challenge. This time I’ll attempt to combine several life hacks into one golden week. I invite you to join me. In the past, I’ve attempted to go from night owl to early bird in seven days, battled email addiction, road-tested new week and new year’s resolutions, …

Have you painted your Ferrari?

by Peter Crocker. I recently moved to one of those touchy feely fruity phones. Hardly a significant event, until I discovered many thought I’d been sucked in and paid a premium just to carry around a logo. Had I fallen for the marketer and ignored the engineer? According to people in the know, there are smart phones that deliver a …

The power of less: Four things to stop

by Peter Crocker Since reading ‘The Power of Less’ by Leo Babauta, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of minimalism in business, and life. Its promise: Do less. Get more done. In music, design and architecture, minimalism is a method that strips things down to only their essential elements.

Do you have these four small business addictions?

by Peter Crocker In business, and life, we repeatedly make resolutions, take stock, turn over new leaves and pledge to give things up. Problem is, cold turkey never works (for me anyway!). So what to do? The answer, as best I can tell from dozens of failed attempts, is to skip the cold turkey and aim to turn ‘strict rules’ …

How to procrastinate: nine tips from a pro

by Peter Crocker Why is there such focus on how to be productive when many of us spend our time faffing around? There should be more tips on how to procrastinate. Here they are. Having studied my own habits – in between randomly browsing infographics, social media and videos of classic newsreader bloopers – I’ve compiled a set of sure-fire …

It’s time we celebrated the freedoms of soloism

by Peter Crocker Running your own show comes with plenty of challenges. But here we pause to celebrate the exhilarating freedom, flexibility and control that come from being your own boss. Flying Solo’s community survey consistently tells us the top four things that appeal to those setting up their own business are flexibility (18 per cent), control (17 per cent), working from home (13 …

23 simple tips on writing for the web

by Peter Crocker Writing for the web is not the same as writing for a brochure or magazine. There are many essential differences that you need to consider. Here are 23 simple tips I’ve picked up over the years. According to usability guru Jakob Nielson, reading from computer screens is 25% slower than reading from paper, and 79% of readers …

‘How can I make mine look bigger?’

by Peter Crocker It seems that insecurities about size and shape abound among business owners. And the little question of size is one that pops up regularly. But does it matter? When talking marketing with solo business owners, especially those just starting up, a common question is “How can I make my business appear larger?”

I know what you did last event: Six terrible tips

by Peter Crocker You may think no one sees you lurking in the corner at networking events. But I know exactly what you‘re up to (because I’m in the other corner), and I’m spilling the beans. As a self-confessed introvert, I have to admit that mingling with a group of hand-shaking strangers is not my cup of tea. Especially at …

Is it time for you to rethink LinkedIn?

by Peter Crocker I’m being stalked by LinkedIn. Just today it sent me personalised news, endorsed my skills and connected me with a new business partner. Perhaps it’s time for me to stop ignoring it so rudely. I was preparing for a call with a potential business prospect. After a brief look at his website, my next step was to …

Beware the ‘man with the gun’ in your business

by Peter Crocker What if there was someone in your business with the power to bring down the whole shooting match? Chances are there is, and it’s critical to know exactly who has their itchy finger on the trigger. The ‘man with the gun’ concept was introduced to me in an interview with Robert Mallet from the Tasmanian Small Business Council.

Why can’t we live like we did that summer?

by Peter Crocker It seems to me that everyone has a golden age in the past or a vision of the future where everything seems idyllic. The question is, why is that time not right now? I recall one such golden summer in 2000, paying dirt-cheap rent for a house a few hundred metres from Freshwater Beach.

The soloist rollercoaster: Plotting my next mood

by Peter Crocker I wouldn’t describe myself as moody, however my non-scientific self-analysis reveals clear trends in the ups and downs of the small business journey. It seems we’re all in a spin cycle. Here’s how it works for me.

The power of patience

by Peter Crocker In a world that glorifies rapid growth, romanticises rags-to-riches stories and lauds overnight sensations, you’d think that business success hinges on dreaming up the next big idea. Does it really? The reality is that in home offices, backrooms, garages, vans and cafés, business owners spend years creating successful ventures. How long does it take to build a …

Is there someone you’d like to thank this Christmas?

by Peter Crocker In any business, there are certain individuals who have played a pivotal role in its success. Here’s your chance to show your appreciation with a public display of gratitude. I’ll go first. Gratitude in business is a topic that comes up a lot in Flying Solo’s articles and forums. One of our first ever contributors, Grant Hyman, …

Challenge: From night owl to early bird in seven days

by Peter Crocker Benjamin Franklin famously stated, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” This week I plan to test this theory for myself. Care to join me? All my life I’ve been a ‘night owl’. Whether it’s reading crime novels, cramming for exams, copywriting to hit deadlines or mindlessly watching crappy TV …

I am an introvert. Now they tell me!

by Peter Crocker Ever since I started working from home, a question I often get asked is “Don’t you miss the social aspect of the office?” My response of “Not at all!” often raises an eyebrow. I had somewhat of a revelation recently when I watched Susan Cain’s TED talk outlining the ideas in her bookQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a …

“Shove it, Jack, I’m walking out the door!”

by Peter Crocker “Stick at it!” “Don’t give up!” “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again!” While dogged persistence is generally a trait to be admired, there are times when bowing out is a far better option. Not to mention a whole lot more fun. A couple of memorable moments from my career are times when I’ve …

Four common home-office interruptions

by Peter Crocker Why do you never hear this at the front door of an investment bank? “Yoo-hoo … anybody home? I was in the area, thought I’d pop in for a quick cuppa!” In our recent Performance, Productivity and Profit webinar (replay online), performance guru Andrew May cited findings that the average worker is interrupted every three-and-a-half minutes, and that the …

Flying solo? You’re not alone.

Here on our blog you’ll find a collection of articles we’ve written about working for yourself, copywriting and marketing. Peter is also a partner at www.flyingsolo.com.au, Australia’s online community for solo business owners. Over on Flying Solo you’ll find Australia’s largest small business forums and over 1400 articles from our team of experts. Articles are discussed throughout the week on topics such as …

Half time! Now regroup, refocus and fire up!

by Peter Crocker Have some water, grab an orange and gather round. As the financial year draws to a close, it’s time for the half-time pep talk. Having been roped in to ref my daughter’s soccer games this year, I’ve been reacquainted with the coach’s half-time rev up.

Your future depends on your devoted dozen

You might have 100 Facebook friends, 250 LinkedIn connections and 500 Twitter followers, but when push comes to shove, your long-term success relies on the support of just 12 individuals. People often talk about those pivotal crisis points in your professional and personal life when “you find out who your real friends are”.

Embrace the chaos? Or fight for control?

by Peter Crocker I expend a lot of energy trying to create order and calm – to-do lists, project plans and research. The reality is that any sense of order rarely lasts, and it’s getting worse. Despite dutifully updating my action list and the best intentions to stay focused, I find that only half of any day’s activity relates to …

What would you tell yourself a decade from now?

by Peter Crocker In our survey, we ask the question “What career/business advice would you give your 15-year old self?” and we had some awesome responses. Reading through the hundreds of answers I noticed common themes cropping up. They were along the lines of ‘believe in yourself’, ‘invest in your education’, ‘don’t listen to doubters’, ‘take risks’, ‘experience life’ and …

What’s in a name? Plenty these days.

by Peter Crocker Head to Google and type in your full name. It’s YOUR identity. But you might be surprised as to who claims it and how it makes you look. At a recent BBQ I met a parent from the local school. The conversation inevitably drifted to work. As we both work for ourselves, the next day after a …

When golden ducks kill the golden goose

by Peter Crocker Do you struggle to get runs on the board for your business under the relentless barrage of distractions? It happens to the very best. Captivated by the drama of fading veterans, floundering newcomers and stunning collapses, I’ve been watching far too much cricket this summer.

Note to self: Man up! Your regrets lie waiting.

by Peter Crocker There’s that moment after a funeral, usually sometime after the third wine, where friends ask one another “Am I doing enough with my life?” Most of us tend to avoid facing the reality of our mortality, but there’s nothing like death to crystalise the mind. The admission that we want something ‘more’ from our lives and careers …

Anger management: Don’t take that tone with me

by Peter Crocker We’ve all been on the receiving end of spiky remarks or emails laced with venom. It’s not pleasant, but can anger in business be effective? Here we look at the issue of anger management. Everyone talks about the benefits of bringing your true self to work and having a real passion for what you do.

Business success: Is ‘making it’ a myth?

by Peter Crocker It’s easy to look at other people, especially in business, and make the assumption that they’ve achieved their major business success goals. But have they? Turning 35 (or late early 30) this month got me thinking once more about life, careers and all that palaver.

Three rules of life

by Peter Crocker You may not take him for a great philosopher or self-help guru, but I found the rules of life Jerry Seinfeld shared on Denton’s Enough Rope a few years back very inspiring for business and life. He pondered the question “What are my three rules of life?” In summary, this is what he came up with.

The F word: Why you need to fail more

by Peter Crocker Fear of failure paralyses more would-be entrepreneurs than just about anything else. But success and failure go hand in hand. In fact, perhaps you’re not failing enough. I recently heard a prominent business person asked about the most important thing they learnt at university. Their answer: “Profit = reward for risk.”

Do working holidays work?

by Peter Crocker I’ve previously written about a copywriter who’d take extended working holidays where he’d write each day from 5am to 12pm before joining his family for lunch and sightseeing. But can it really be done? Rather than busting your gut for two weeks of pure holiday, could you stretch your trip length and budget by spending a section …

Is it time to crack the WIP?

by Peter Crocker A mate of mine kicked off this year by escaping the office to develop new plans, products and growth strategies for his business. What happened was unexpected. Rather than return with a to-do list full of new actions and exciting plans, he came back with a to-do list shorter than when he left. After careful consideration over …

Digital is seriously devaluing your industry. Now what?

by Peter Crocker You can embrace it or you can ignore it, but you can’t deny it. The mushrooming global online marketplace is disrupting the value proposition of every industry, including yours. A while back we ran an advertisement for a large, low cost provider in the communications industry, which took a swipe at more expensive independent providers.

SMART goal setting: Making ‘New Week resolutions’

by Peter Crocker Over the summer, I love imagining grand visions for a glittering year ahead. But when it comes to developing the necessary action plans, I start to nod off. As we’ve talked about a lot, January is the ideal time to make resolutions, set goals and create marketing strategies for the year ahead. I usually do these things, …

Share your business pitch in 140 characters

by Peter Crocker Is Twitter a sign of society’s shrivelling attention span and trivia obsession, or does it provide the strict discipline we need to distil our thoughts into focused nuggets? We’ve previously explored the all-important 30-second elevator statement and discussed the benefits of a catchy one-line business tagline, but with the irresistible rise of Twitter, is it time to …

Caution: Career change ahead

by Peter Crocker Whether you’re loving, loathing or just knee-deep in building your business, it’s easy to forget that it won’t last forever. During a recent family holiday, we met up with a couple that we hadn’t seen for a few years. What they’d achieved in the intervening years made me feel like I was standing still!

Is there a secret to passive income?

by Peter Crocker There is a whole industry built around selling the idea that you can escape your job, earn a six figure income and retire in a few years – all working part-time from anywhere. Count me in! I’ve done some reading and the promise varies from sales letter to telegraph pole, but some of the common features are:

Honesty in business: Let me be frank

by Peter Crocker Between political correctness and sucking up, butt-covering, politeness and advertising spin, the big and small business world is awash with meaningless conversations and wasted activity. Does honesty in business exist anymore? For example, during a recent stint back in corporate land, a friend of mine found herself in a group hug chanting a positive mantra to start …

Business networking wimp: Tell me something I don’t know

by Peter Crocker It’s fair to say that ‘getting out there’ and business networking – online or offline – is not something that comes naturally to me. Truth be told, if left up to me I’d slouch alone in my home office all day listening to folksy music with headphones on and ignoring the telephone.

Money and happiness: Are you earning too much money?

by Peter Crocker What is the relationship between money and happiness? I recall research from a few years ago that found that at all income levels, people say they would be satisfied if they could get 20% more. If our goal is always ‘more’, then we’re destined to spend our careers striving for that elusive extra 20%.

What stops you starting your own business?

by Peter Crocker A friend recently completed his first successful year as a solo business owner. His synopsis: “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Well, there are lots of reasons that stop people starting their own business. While the Flying Solo community is buzzing with established entrepreneurs, we know that there are also thousands of aspiring business owners lurking, learning …

Are you lost for words?

by Steve Manning Words. They’re everywhere. We hear them, speak them and read them all day long. So why is it so hard to write them down sometimes? Whether it’s an important email, business letter, article, web page or advertisement, most of us have experienced writer’s block at some point in time. Although you may be a good writer and …

Want simplicity? Be prepared to fight for it.

by Peter Crocker From product design and processes to marketing and language, small businesses need simplicity to prosper. So why is it so elusive? “Less is more”, “short and sweet” and “Keep it simple stupid (KISS)” are powerful philosophies. They sound straightforward, but are actually tricky for small businesses to attain. Things start off simple. Innovative products, start-up business models …

How to write an effective sales letter

by Steve Manning If you run a business, chances are that you’ll have to produce a sales letter at some point in time. Whether it’s to launch your business, a new product or to attract more sales, a well-written sales letter can be an extremely effective tool in your marketing mix. However, it’s easy to get it wrong. There are …

Are you having a laugh?

by Peter Crocker If you take your business seriously, then it may be time to lighten up. Adding a dash of humour can be a seriously powerful and often underestimated tool.When you’re wading knee-deep through a prolonged business drama or a nightmare project, it’s all too easy to get sucked into a humourless quagmire. Even the daily routine of business …

How do you get in the zone?

by Peter Crocker Elite sports people often have a routine they go through before a game to help them get ‘in the zone’ to perform at their best. This powerful concept can apply to business professionals too. Also referred to as being ‘in the flow’, ‘in the groove’, or simply ‘completely absorbed’, the concept has been studied by psychologists for …

Is work life integration a pipe dream?

by Peter Crocker I’ve recently become fascinated by the idea of ‘work life integration’. Ok, so I haven’t even mastered ‘work life balance’ yet, but that concept is so last decade! To me ‘work life balance’ implies a tradeoff between good and evil, where work is the thing you have to endure to get to the good things in life.

Cut to the chase

by Peter Crocker When you run your own business, you’ll inevitably be presented with great-sounding opportunities by prospective partners. But beware, most of what glitters is not gold. While it’s nice to have options, the fact is that only a small percentage of ideas will come to fruition. Successful business people have a sharp ability to rapidly get to the …

Client Christmas gifts: hot or not?

by Peter Crocker Up until last year I thought giving clients a gift at Christmas – or at least a card – was a sure-fire winner. It turns out there is a very passionate divide on the subject amongst business owners. In response to my newsletter last year called four unique corporate gift ideas, 75 commenters jumped in to have …

Beware tired and emotional typing

by Peter Crocker We’ve all said things we regret. In the real world, a sincere face-to-face apology and explanation can usually put things right, but in the virtual world our words can take on a life of their own. You may have heard of the dangers of text messaging under the influence (TUI). Also known as ‘intexication’, TUI can result …

The cheat’s guide to exceeding expectations

by Peter Crocker “Under promise, over deliver!” is considered brilliant advice for business owners. But many people only focus on the hard work of over delivering, when it can be easier, and frankly more effective, to get better at under promising. A great tip from Steve Herzberg’s effective selling presentation at this year’s Flying Solo LIVE! was that ‘constantly exceeding …

What makes you start your own business?

by Peter Crocker I always had a desire to work for myself one day. If you’re reading this, you probably did too. But for me, when it came to taking the plunge, it was a total knee-jerk reaction with no inkling of a business plan. Is that the norm or the exception? A few years ago I argued that, there’s …

Backyard studios: Do they work for work?

by Peter Crocker I moved house, and therefore office, earlier this month. Inside there’s plenty of competition for bedrooms and, with three wardrobe-hogging girls circling my precious office, I could be banished to the doghouse. But should I go? We know from the Flying Solo Understanding Micro Business, 2008 survey that 69% of Flying Solo community members work from home, but just where in …

Three types of holiday: Which are you?

by Peter Crocker As I write this I’m madly clearing the decks before I go on holiday. As you read this, I’ll be back into work mode and wading through emails. For small business owners, holidays can be hard work. Do these scenarios sound familiar? It’s about this time of year when holiday cravings kick in. But ask a business …

Seven things I’ve learnt from big business

by Peter Crocker It’s easy to criticise large institutions for their bureaucratic processes and customer service shortcomings. But, by examining what they do well, there’s a wealth of ideas for small businesses. Here are seven… 1. Be firm. Try negotiating the price of a Big Mac, or getting a cinema to change the time of a movie. It’s easy to …

Could you sell your business?

by Peter Crocker You’ve worked hard, built up a good customer base and established a profitable niche for your business, but is it actually worth anything? Would anyone buy your business? Recently I was talking to a GP who had run his own busy surgery for many years. He was contemplating retirement and I asked him his plans for the …

I’m still addicted to email. Are you?

by Peter Crocker In my earlier article Confessions from an email addict, I spilt the beans on my compulsive email behaviours. Despite some frank self talk and bold promises, I’m sorry to report that my email addiction continues. Behaviour such as checking email in the middle of the night and getting anxious if away from email may seem extreme to …

Confessions from an email addict

by Peter Crocker When I woke up the other morning at 3am to go to the bathroom, I thought it would be a routine pit stop. How wrong I was. Seeing the office door ajar, I quietly crept in and did the unthinkable. I woke up my peacefully slumbering computer and hit ‘Send/Receive’. I even glanced at my mobile phone …

Lose the busy competition

by Peter Crocker Meetings, deadlines, multi-tasking, smart phones, caffeine and chaos: it seems business is all about busyness. Ask people how they are and you’ll often get “Mate! Busy!” But why is busyness considered a virtue? Surely running around like a headless chook is a sign of failure? At the very least it’s a symptom of bad time management, a …

How great companies turn crisis into opportunity

by Peter Crocker In a recent interview in Fortune magazine, management guru Jim Collins, author of business classics Built to Last and Good to Great, discussed what a business needs to thrive through uncertainty. Collins has spent several years studying how successful companies navigate turbulent times. He’s examined history including recent events such as 9/11 and the dot-com crash. His …

Prime online real estate going begging

by Peter Crocker Here’s a quick experiment that will speak volumes about your online presence. The results may be inspiring, frustrating or ho-hum all at the same time. I call it window shopping the competition. Here’s how it works. Hop onto www.google.com.au and type in the main keyword related to your business, along with the name of your suburb or …

How to sustain the holiday feeling

by Peter Crocker Even as January ends, my street is still dotted with discarded Christmas trees, drooping fairy lights and half-deflated Santas. I know how he feels. With the tan faded and toys broken, how can you sustain that holiday feeling? I’ve never managed to fully achieve it myself, but hope these strategies will make the difference this year.

11 ½ resolutions to break in 2009

by Peter Crocker Okay, so they’re easy to make and virtually impossible to keep, but with every New Year comes resolutions. At Flying Solo we put our heads together and came up with these 11 ½ practical resolutions for micro business owners. Here comes 2009! Go and put the kettle on and get set to make some big promises.

Career paths: Are you who you wanted to be?

by Peter Crocker The other day, I caught the end of a radio report on recent research into career paths and happiness. The researchers asked: “Are you doing what you’ve always wanted to do?” and, “Given the chance, would you change careers?” Unsurprisingly, the answers showed that most people don’t end up doing what they really wanted to do as …

Self promotion: Making it easy to get found

by Peter Crocker A recent experience reminded me just how many businesses make it unnecessarily difficult to be found by their prospects. In a world that’s increasingly obsessed with Google ranking, let’s not overlook the basics of self promotion. I’m in the market for an automatic driveway gate. But with hundreds of options online, I decided to take an old-fashioned …

False economy: Beware the lure of the quickie

by Peter Crocker So your customer rings and says, “I need something fast, cheap and cheerful, nothing fancy. Could you have a quick look?” Don’t believe it. This is false economy and the result can be less than satisfying for all involved. Having done quite a few of these small ‘favour’ type jobs over the years, I can tell you …

Business quoting: 10 secret line items revealed

by Peter Crocker The world of big business is renowned for mysterious fees and charges. But here amongst small business, the use of hidden line items is running rampant! Here’s an exposé of the black art of business quoting. When a quote comes in for $675+GST, it’s comforting to think that it’s worked out using some neat formula based on …

Effective business websites

by Peter Crocker In my web browser, I have a folder called ‘business websites I like’. It contains random sites that, for one reason or another, drew me in. Looking back at the list, they have three ingredients in common that make them effective business websites. These are: clarity, intelligence and personality. Spending time on an effective business website is …

Feeding the time-hungry beast

by Peter Crocker Recently, I was talking to a friend who described his excavation business as a ‘time-hungry beast’. It sits by his side all day, every day, at night and on weekends with its gaping mouth drooling for time and attention. But I realised “That’s life.” Wherever you turn there’s family, friends, customers, television, kids, telemarketers, books, chores, telephones, …

I don’t love my work. Do you?

by Peter Crocker The philosophy of “Do what you love!” and “Find your passion.” implies if you’re not bouncing out of bed every day with fire in the belly then you’re in the wrong career. But seriously, are we chasing the impossible dream? Whether you run your own business or work for someone else, I believe it’s unrealistic to think …

It’s time to get serious about online marketing

by Peter Crocker In Flying Solo’s recent survey, you told us online marketing strategies such as websites and social networking were among the top ways to find new clients. Yet only 53% of us soloists have a website we’re happy with. Delving deeper it turns out that of the soloists who had a website, only 40% had done search engine …

Everybody runs their own business

by Peter Crocker Whether you’re leading a team from the corner office, crafting clothes from the kitchen table, working in a shop or bringing up children, I hereby declare you a solo business owner. You are the CEO of You Inc. Life’s big challenge, just like in business, is turning the limited resources available into something we find rich and …

The easy email clients love you for

by Peter Crocker There’s a simple email you can send to your clients or customers that they are guaranteed to love. If you want your customers to perceive you as switched on, reliable and trustworthy, read on.

Is your business leaking money?

by Peter Crocker There are two basic ways to keep your money box full: 1. Make more money, 2. Spend less money. I’ve always thought maximising your income through professional development and better business operations is the best way to go, but losing site of costs can be, well, costly.

It’s a wonder anyone starts a business

by Peter Crocker When talk turns to starting your own business, there’s never a shortage of someone to tut-tut to themselves… “Most small businesses fail you know.” “Never go into business with family.” “Don’t borrow from friends.” “Don’t work with your partner.” And so it goes on. True, it’s quite possible that it won’t work out. So based on this …

Sometimes I really miss my boss

by Peter Crocker You stroll into your boss’ office, flick your resignation letter nonchalantly onto the desk and explain precisely what they can do with their stinking job. Then you swan out to the cheers of your workmates. Or so goes the fantasy. Much of the appeal of working for yourself is escaping the annoying, incompetent and/or bullying bosses that …

Use the power of channel marketing

by Peter Crocker Selling products or services direct to customers is all good and well. But could you be missing out on a potentially larger and more lucrative marketing opportunity? In the past I’ve done a lot of work on channel marketing for IT companies. Put simply, channel marketing involves selling through partners or resellers rather than direct to customers.

Whipping time: The accountability exercise

by Peter Crocker Well, it’s past 10am on 11 December so the whip’s out! It’s time to see if the power of accountability has worked for the 39 brave souls who made a commitment to achieve one important task before the end of the year. The theory is that by simply telling someone you’ll do something and when you will …

Is your word your bond?

by Peter Crocker ‘Gumps’, the oldest member of my family, is a 91 year old country stockman. Back in the day, he did big deals on nothing more than a handshake. But it seems promises are getting increasingly casual. Is your word your bond? Gumps was telling me that a couple of water bills that showed usage a little on …

The accountability exercise

by Peter Crocker Forget “New Year’s resolutions”. What about “This Year’s resolutions”? I’d like to suggest a short and simple exercise which will use the proven power of accountability to help you achieve something extremely important this year. I also posed this same challenge in an earlier article called Tell someone who cares. The concept is that for many people, …

Four unique gift ideas

by Peter Crocker Okay, it may seem early to bring up the silly season, but it is officially October and this is one issue that, left untreated until December, quickly becomes a huge headache. At about this time each year, I start making a list (and checking it twice) of those people who have been an important part of my …

The bikini concept

by Peter Crocker My last article looked at selling to existing customers with the phrase “I’ve got an idea for you.” But what about using a similarly proactive approach with new prospects? Recently I was approached by an editor looking for freelance work. But rather than send through a CV or samples, she edited my website with some recommendations on …

I’ve got an idea for you

by Peter Crocker In a Flying Solo poll 43% of respondents said they would like to increase their flow of new business. Whenever this topic comes up, thinking tends to focus on “How and where can I find new customers?” But there is another way. Last week whilst making coffee, a marketing idea occurred to me that I thought would …

Do you need to believe?

by Peter Crocker As soloists, we tend to have a fair bit of influence over what jobs we take on, and what jobs we let through to the keeper. This is one of soloism’s great attractions. But deciding if a certain job is suitable isn’t necessarily easy. For me, it’s generally about the people. If you’re working with great people …

Five things I’m glad I did

by Peter Crocker In an earlier article I listed four things I wish I’d done from day one of my solo business. This time, on a more positive note, I’m looking at five things I’m glad I did.

The online brochure website is not dead

by Peter Crocker At the risk of suffering the wrath of website developers and online marketing consultants the world over, I’m going to go out on a limb and say “There is nothing wrong with a simple online brochure website!” Any online marketer worth their salt will tell you that the Internet is completely different from print.

Four things I wish I’d done

by Peter Crocker Hindsight is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? I’ve been in my solo business for five years now and in looking back, can see four simple things that I wish I’d done consistently from day one.

Part 2: Tell someone who cares

by Peter Crocker In my last article I wrote about the power of accountability and the importance of setting deadlines for getting things done. This topic was triggered because for me, and many others, it’s often difficult to achieve goals or complete tasks efficiently without a time-specific deadline.

Tell someone who cares

by Peter Crocker Why is the builder’s house half built? Why does the mechanic’s car need a service? Or in my case, why hasn’t the copywriter’s website been refreshed for… well, a long time. It’s time I did something about it and I hope you’ll be able to help.

Your money or your life

by Peter Crocker There’s plenty in the media at the moment about the long hours worked by Australians. Then just last week, I was flicking through a business magazine and came across an article about the Head Honcho of a big global company. The story followed his typical day…he arrives at 5am, works non-stop until 8pm then goes to a …

Have you eaten your frog today?

by Peter Crocker Here’s something that used to happen to me all the time, and it completely infuriated me… I’d head into my home office around 8.15am all ready to go. I’d pop back out and boil the kettle. Open up the email, check who won the cricket, drop by a few of my favourite sites. I’d re-boil the kettle. …

The soloist ‘away day’

by Peter Crocker If you’ve been around a corporate environment, you’ll be familiar with the concept of the ‘off site’, ‘away day’, ‘strategic review’, ‘conference’, or ‘executive retreat’. Apart from an excuse to over-indulge at the gala dinner, hug your work colleagues and sit on the photocopier, there’s a good reason all major companies do this – because it works.

Successful business: Talent is not the key

by Peter Crocker The one fundamental attribute you need to run a successful business as a soloist is to be good at what you do – good, but not necessarily great. Yes, you need to be good enough that people will pay for your services or products, but you don’t necessarily need to be the leader in your field or …

Six steps for solo business branding

by Peter Crocker Credible business branding has been revealed as a big issue for soloists. Is it our problem if people don’t take us seriously? I think it is. Here are some ways we can show the world we mean business. Karen Morath’s article, Meet two types of home-based business, and Sam Leader’s follow up, Small business credibility: You cannot …

The highs & lows of working for yourself

by Peter Crocker Working for yourself from home is often glamorised as a life of freedom, leisure & balance. A world where shiny silver laptops roam free and hours are spent at the beach. But what’s the reality? And is it all worth it? It’s Wednesday 11.30am and the sun is shining. I’m perched on the grass covering the headland …

Listen to music while you work?

by Peter Crocker If you listen to music while you work and you have a broadband connection (preferably unlimited), read on. I’m sure plenty of you are way ahead of me, but this is easily the best thing I’ve found on the net in the last year or so. Most of the time I’ll listen to music as I’m working. …

How business partnerships work

by Peter Crocker Can business partnerships help you grow your business without getting paid? Possibly. One way is to help a client build a business by putting the value of your expertise on the line. Recently a long-term client of mine returned from America with a new business idea he was starting up. We met to discuss the writing of …

When to start your own business

by Peter Crocker How do you know exactly when the time is just right to take the plunge and start your own business? The answer is surprisingly simple: never. There will never be a day when you cross the last task off your list and say “Great, that’s all done – time to work for myself.”

Faster decision making by caring less

by Peter Crocker Soloists are generally 110% passionate about what they’re doing. Passion is a good thing, right? Maybe not when it comes to effective decision making.

Business branding: Are you a Virgin?

by Peter Crocker When it comes to your business branding, rather than trying to emulate others, it’s more revealing to look in the mirror. It feels like every second marketing brief I’ve received over the last year or so is followed by the comment “…we want to sound a bit like Virgin and Nudie Juice.” Now, I’m all for the …

The joy of starting a side business

by Peter Crocker “Ditch the corporate job and go it alone” they say “Life is not a rehearsal!” But realistically, it’s hard to chuck in a good job. Have you considered starting a side business? Many people dreaming of starting their own solo business are independent professionals – essentially they sell their expertise and time for a fee. To gain …

4 steps to getting customer testimonials

by Peter Crocker Getting impressive customer testimonials on your website or marketing collateral is a very powerful way to win new business. But how do you get them? If you’ve ever tried to get a client to write a testimonial for you, you’ll know how difficult this can be – even if they’re your number one fan. The problem is, …