“Time Waits for No Man” | Life of an Entrepreneur interview

I was very honoured to be interviewed by Daniel K Cheung, Founder of The Wedding Entrepreneur and ChopeIt.com, to share my experience as a mum and an entrepreneur. The actual interview deviated a little from the original transcript below. But I’m very excited to share the interview here. I hope you all enjoy it.

  

INTRODUCTION
Jo is a mother of 2 young boys, self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” who also dedicates her time in ministry teaching Christian Yoga.  Growing up in two cities (Hong Kong & Sydney) with the influences of Asian and Aussie cultures have shaped her strong views on the need to embrace technology in business, life and parenting.  She currently lives in Sydney running a digital marketing agency, teaching yoga and looking after her 2 young boys.  Her entrepreneurial spirit lends itself with the crystal clear objective to help people’s lives.  In her spare time, she is sitting there intentionally doing..’nothing’.

Do you have a favourite success/motivation quote?

“Time waits for no man”  For me, that is a reminder for me to put every second of my life in ‘intentional’ good use, whether this is work, play or doing ‘nothing’.  All is intentional.

You’re at a networking party, someone walks up to you and asks “What exactly do you do?”. How do you answer that in 10-seconds?

Together with a good friend, I run a boutique digital marketing agency which help businesses with all things ‘digital marketing’ related.  I juggle that job with teaching Christian Yoga as well.

How did you start this journey of becoming an entrepreneur?

I suppose I was either born with that itch or I wanted to mirror my parents’ success in entrepreneurship.

I’m sure that I was heavily influenced by my parents’ encouraging stories and success in their experience.

A few years ago, I left the corporate world to venture into the life of an entrepreneur starting an online fashion accessories shop.  That business has not done as well as I had hoped and has now become more of a legacy and turned into a hobby for me. Since then, I have tapped into a few other business ideas but have come to realise that digital consultancy is my edge and has proven to be the most successful business I’ve been running thus far.

And following on from that, how did you get your first client? Was it a paid job?

In the three ventures I currently run, they all started with word of mouth or referral business.  When you launch , it’s always your closest who buy/become your first client or spread the word for you.

To answer your question specifically, I’ll use my online fashion business.  Following on from friends and family, my first customer was from a Facebook ad who was looking for a gift for her fiancé and wanted a customised card sent out together with the purchase.  And man, do you bend over backwards for your first ever real customer!

Can you describe the worst entrepreneurial moment that you have had? What happened? How did it make you feel? And how did you address it?

Hmm….It would have to be “breaking up” with my initial business partner. I must have lost 2 weeks of sleep over that saga.

I’m sure plenty of entrepreneurs go into partnership with a beautiful vision of how ‘you two (or three or four) would work collaboratively as a solid team’, each being able to contribute their skills and complement one another.  You kind of ‘know’ about your differences and ‘hope’ that those differences never surface into anything significant.  But I tell you what, ‘know those differences’  and make sure you have a game plan as to how you manage them when you enter into business partnership.  And especially if they are friends.  It’s not a pleasant conversation to have when you want to go separate ways.

For me, I was very blessed.  My friend and I were very civil about it.  We both knew to place friendship over business.  But I know and have heard of partnerships that went sour and it makes me feel so bad to hear those stories because I’ve seen what can happen if the friendship IS placed first.  Everything always works out in the end.  People just sometimes need to let go of the business and self-righteousness.  Easier said than done, I know..

Anyways, we went separate ways and that has not impacted our friendship a slight bit.  She’s gone and built an empire for herself in the same industry, and turned her business into something far more successful that I have in that industry.  We’re very supportive of each other and I don’t regret ending that partnership at all.

Can you describe the best entrepreneurial moment that you have had?

Can this question be rephrased in ‘plural’ form?  “Moments”

Gosh there are so many but can I talk to my ministry work here? It’s not intentionally ‘entrepreneurial’ but something that entrepreneurs can relate to and this is something that happened recently.

I sent out a flyer for my Christian yoga class to one of the mother’s at my son’s school just ‘hoping’ that I would get some extra students for my classes.  That flyer went viral (DIGITALLY! “sorry, I had to clarify that).  I then had the biggest turn out that a yoga teacher, church minister could ever hope for.  Not only that, this has turned into a regular class with more students that I could ever ask and opened opportunities for more classes.  Of course, I have that mother, a good friend of mine, to thank as well.

The moral of the story is that every avenue to spread word about your business is an opportunity.  Whilst that example wasn’t intentional, in hindsight, it was definitely a learning.  So, don’t be afraid, I say.  Just spread the word.

Entrepreneurs are often told to raise their prices. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Yes, this is a challenging topic.

Fundamentally, I believe that you should never undervalue your services.  On saying that, as an entrepreneur, I know that it’s easy to get emotional and you do whatever it takes to get that business through the door.  Often with lots of excuses and justification because you ‘want THAT CUSTOMER’ …be it your first, be it your biggest.

HOWEVER, I am also a commercial director at heart.  Don’t let the emotions take over.  Do the math.

My view on this is, don’t undervalue your services and be scared to say ‘no’ because when you do, you are entering a vicious cycle of ‘in scalability’.  When you take on services at a loss, you can’t afford to grow your business while you continue to spend time trying to deliver the best.  You are compromising your most important asset as an entrepreneur, your TIME.

If you are going to offer ‘free’ services, make sure you exchange it for something like a ‘testimonial’, a ‘speaking spot’ at a big event or anything that can help you grow your ‘brand’ awareness.  Not because you WANT to have that FIRST or BIGGEST customer.

What is your point of differentiation in the market? What makes you you?

With my digital agency business, our point of differentiation is ‘quick wins’ and ‘efficiency’.  We don’t like to harp on about the strategic 10 year plan that NEVER gets executed on.  We’ll leave that for large corporate boardrooms.  We pride ourselves in delivering results for small/medium sized business.

With my yoga teaching, my point of differentiation is that the meditation and focus is on the Bible.  I am one of two Christian Yoga teachers in this country.

What social media do you use for your business? Which one converts the most for you?

For all my ventures, we are on almost everything.  Like I said before, every avenue is an opportunity and especially social media where it’s free and there is a relevant audience.

To name a few, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Polyvore.

I would like to say for ‘B2C’ businesses, Facebook definitely converts best.  It can get complicated but let’s not.

My rule of thumb is to be present where your customers are mingling.

Do you have a website/blog? How often do you update it and why?

Yes, I do.  My personal blog is an extension of my brain and also serves as my blog for my yoga teaching and digital marketing opinions.

I update it several times a month.  Why? Because I love writing. I also love capturing memories in words.  I also love sharing my passions with others over the Internet!

My blog is celebrating it’s 10 year anniversary and I’m very proud of it, I must say.

Share one of your personal habits that you do have that contributes to your success.

Scheduling and sticking to plan. Action over words.

Do you have a resource like an Evernote that you can recommend to the audience?

Yup. And you named it.

I also recommend Xero for small business accounting. Check it out.

What is one habit that you wish you had?

I wish I was a morning person.  Enough said.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

This piece of advice was given to me by my father.  “Any decision is better than NO decision”.

What was stopping you from becoming an entrepreneur?       

For me, it was money. I’m naturally quite risk-adverse which is sometimes a stumbling block for entrepreneurship.  I waited till I could afford to ‘lose’ before I ‘gambled’.

What is the best way to contact you? And what is a parting piece of advice that you would like to share with our listeners?

Email. I am great with emails. I always respond and I’ll have a well thought-out response.

“Do everything wholeheartedly, efficiently, with kindness and with your audience in mind first. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because they become your story.”

Thank you for allowing me to share my story today!

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It’s true…There is a way to see your SEO keywords | Advertising tips for small businesses

Here’s a little update after attending our Google Partner Event.


Since working with Google 10 years ago, I have seen this company go from 7 people operating out of a modest Sydney office (a home, to be exact) to what it is now.  Google has been such a core part of my life, I can’t even see how my different my life would have been without it.  I’m sure plenty can relate to this statement.  However, for me, it’s not just the access to the world’s information.  Google has shaped my university life (when it was a B-grade search engine) to my first job in my career, to making my career and now my own business.  Not to mention that even after hours, I’m married to Google (well, virtually. LOL*)

At Efficient Media, we are always on the lookout to help small businesses find quick ways of doing things.  That’s our motto: Being efficient.  Since Google removed our visibility into the keywords that people use to find our brands and websites, it has left a lot of business wandering in the dark; unless, of course, you pay Google for advertising your business in which case, you suddenly get reports showing you the keywords driving traffic to your website!  But organically, more than 50% of your website traffic would (and frankly, should) come from organic (unpaid) listings on Google.  Without visibility into the types of keywords people are using to find your website, “MR Google, how do you expect us to optimise our content and website based on the keywords people are using?”  Well, the answer is not that simple.  And that’s why small businesses should leave it with the experts 😛

A few high level tips for small business:

  1. If you’re scared of competing with the BIG guys, here’s good news.  The great thing about being small is that you’re nimble and you’re fast.  There is no ‘layers’ of approvals that you need to go through before you can make a small change to your website.  So there.  TEST, TEST and don’t be afraid to try different things until you find something that works.  The catch here is that you need to give things some time before you may start to see results.  So, ask your agency or in-house expert for that advice on the minimum testing period. And PLEASE. Trust them.  Be patient and if after the testing period, things don’t work, you’re winning.  Because, compared to the corporate giant, they’re still running around for approval on that first change!
  2. Tag, tag, tag.  How do we predict the future?  Based on the past.  Based on historical data.  The only way to get this is to have all of your website tagging implemented correctly to ensure the data collection is accurate.   Data leakage is one key thing and your agency should be able to quickly identify if you are leaking data and fixing that problem.  Google Analytics is a free tool that even large corporates use.  It’s free and a must-have!
  3. Care about the ‘micro moments’ of your customers.  When we say ‘micro’ moments, we mean the customised experience you can now give to your individual customers/clients.  Mass marketing is so 1998.  With most people owning a handheld device (tablet, smartphone) or two, that’s how they engage with your brand.  Tell me, do you still use the white pages or back-of-the-newspaper to find information? Or do you use your mobile phone to find answers on the fly?  Even my 70 year old father knows to turn to Google to find where the closest shop is when he’s out and about, let alone those who have grown up with technology (who will eventually be your ONLY audience in 20 years’ time).   What are you doing on social media, video platforms, local listings, Google search to provide a customised experience for those ‘micro moments’ of your customers?  Micro moments ranging from dad looking for the hardware store on the road, to a lone traveller turning to his tablet at the airport waiting to board his flight and killing time with watching videos, to a mum who is researching at home for the best recipes for the school fair tomorrow. Where is YOUR BRAND in those micro moments?
  4. Get a good sense of the keywords that drive traffic to your website. So yes, as the title of this post suggest, it is indeed possible to get visibility into keywords that drive website traffic.   And the experts will know how to do it.  I’m not going to go into the depths of it here but at Efficient Media, we can get them for you with our tools of trade.  And that includes SEO keywords!  Ask us here.
  5. DON’T measure ‘HITS’.  Without offending anything, HITS has commonly been dubbed ‘How Idiots Measure Success’, unless of course, you sell advertising space on your website (that’s a separate story..but still, the engagement with your site’s page probably matters more than ‘hits’ in this instance).
  6. Analysis paralysis is a common disease. In the world of digital metrics, there are more metrics and terms used for measuring success. And to confuse you even more, there are synonymous terms which makes the types of metrics more confusing than walking down a cereal aisle. Don’t try to look at every metric.  Your agency should be able to decipher what metrics to use for you to measure success for YOUR business.  It’s your agency’s job.  Use them and TRUST them.
  7. Social presence.  Sounds like one of the easiest things to do but far too often, businesses tell me ‘they don’t have time yet’.   Nothing can be more important to having dialogue with your customers.  It shows that you care about them.  It allows you to learn more about your customers, how they view your brand, what they want from you and your services. It provides an engaging forum for you to communicate your brand’s proposition to them!.  We cannot stress enough about the importance of having presence in social forums.  And the most common mistake is, “Oh, you mean Facebook?” NO!  True, Facebook is highly accessible to everyone but it may not the platform that your customers/clients turn to for advice or research on your products/services.  When we say ‘social presence’, we mean being present in the ‘digital communities’ that are relevant to your business.  For example, a restaurant business will need to have presence in ‘Yelp’ as well as ‘Google’s Local Business listings’ as well as a Facebook Page/Place as well as Google+ Page for reviews…etc.  Relevance in social is key.

We could talk more and more about the elements that drive small business success.  At the end of the day, there are only 24 hours (get it?).  It’s about prioritising what is important and drive immediate results that add up for the small business owner.  And we’re here to help you!  For more information, call us on +612 8007 5774 or click here.

Mr Mysterious | Kirribilli Markets

We’re here at the Kirribilli Markets! Super sale on sunglasses, jewellery cases and some sample stock of my acrylic jewellery collection!


      

[Update 27th April : Praise the Lord! Thank you for blessing us with beautiful weather that literally, no… like LITERALLY, lasted for just the time the markets were up. The minute we woke to set up and through the awesome day till we packed. The minute we had jumped into our car after packing up, hail storms came! Thank you for hearing my prayers. Also, what a great turnout! I didn’t get to sell as much as I had wanted to but sure did get some good interest, feedback and a few sales. Until next time …]

If You Haven’t Worked a Day in Your Life, You Probably Don’t Love Anything

Totally agree. I love the realism and wit!

The Indisputable Dirt

You’ve heard it before, the beloved aphorism from the ever-intriguing Confucius;

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

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I’ve also heard it attributed to Albert Einstein, but the internet tells me that Confucius coined it, so we’ll go with that. Regardless, you’ve probably seen it in the form of a meme, pinned a thousand times on Pinterest, shared on Facebook, tweeted on twitter, etc…

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 ^stuff like this^

I understand why the quote is so popular. There is something inspiring, something hopeful about it. It is just poetic enough to sound reasonable, just vague enough to withstand any serious scrutiny.

The only problem, of course, is that it is almost entirely false.

If the phrase was not so oft-quoted, if I did not think it influenced people’s decisions, I wouldn’t be writing this post. But from where I stand, this…

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Mr Mysterious Supporting Good Cause | Anchor of Hope

Yet again, another opportunity for Mr Mysterious to give back to the community. A proud sponsor of Fideliz Cruz Personal Styling, we were extremely happy to be supporting a Christian non-profit organisation, Anchor of Hope. Anchor of Hope helps under-privelidged children in Africa.

Here, we present our Masquerade to winner, who loves our product!

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The event was another successful example of how Faith, Curiousity and Love can drive success in all the right ways.

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Mr Mysterious Pop-up Store | Thanks to Nevillee

First and foremost, thank you to Nevillee (www.nevillee.com) and Surry Hills Pop up for inviting us to be part of the event. Despite having less than 3 weeks to plan for it, the event turned out extremely well.

It was Mr Mysterious’ inaugural pop up store / show room. And it was very exciting. There was a mountain of preparation work to do from a visual merchandising standpoint but with the help of many, we were able to pull together an attractive stand.

We gave everyone a sneak peek of the new perspex jewellery line we are working on and everyone just loved it! We managed to get a few sales from just our sample products. So, stay tuned on http://www.mrmysterious.com.au

We enjoyed seeing everyone’s looks and the feedback on our products. Thanks to all of those who came by to support us and enjoy the catwalk shows and just mingle with a drink or two. I hope all of our enjoyed a memorable event and was able to get some bargains at all participating brand.

Until next time!

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Mr Mysterious Launch | Christmas Day

Today marks a big day for Mr Mysterious. On Christmas Day, yes, Christmas Day, Mr Mysterious online store publicly went live.

It has been a fruitful and busy 2013 and I’m pleased to announce it has all paid off for everyone who has helped make this store happen. I couldn’t have done it all by myself and I won’t forget each and everyone one of you who has helped to make this so successful and given this brand all your support.

My hope is that Mr Mysterious will continue to provide its customers or fans all the beautiful things we promise, to allow for creative expression and to explore the curious and mysterious things in life.

To bigger and better 2014. May everyone have a wonderful Christmas and make sure you don’t miss out on the Boxing Day/Launch Sale coming up.

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