We all know how it goes, another month suddenly flies by and you’ve spent it all working IN your business with client work and admin, not ON the strategy and bigger picture for your business. That’s where Two Girls and a Laptop come in to help get you closer to your ideal business.
So who are the Two Girls and what do you do?
We’re Helen & Jacqui, the ‘girls’ behind Two Girls and a Laptop. We work together to support small business owners to define, create and implement goals and business improvements into actionable steps to reignite and propel their business forward.
What does that actually mean?
Many business owners we work with struggle to grow the business strategically as they are too busy with the day to day tasks. We help owners work ‘on’ their business instead of ‘in’ their business. Any small business owner will know there are usually a gazillion things they could be (or people on social media tell them they should be) doing and we help them find the ‘low hanging fruit’. That is, the improvements they can easily implement to give them the biggest uplift for effort. We know our ideal clients are time poor and don’t have endless cash so we keep our engagements and workshops affordable and timely.
How did you become Two Girls and a Laptop?
We worked together in Telco for more than a decade where we ran the retail franchise network. Not only did we work at large enterprise level but we also got the opportunity to work with the individual business owners. This is where we gained a lot of experience in understanding the end to end management of small business not only sales and marketing but the financial, HR, customer service and operational side of business. The part of our jobs we loved the most was helping the franchisees to run successful and profitable small businesses. From there we followed separate paths. Fast forward to mid 2017, throw in a number of career changes (email marketing, online business ownership and social media management) and some offspring. We’d always been keen on working together again and had been throwing around ideas for quite a while. Then one rainy day in June the decision was made – “let’s do this!”
How important is it to nail your business strategy?
As we are business strategists of course we are going to say it is THE MOST important thing. A brand person will tell you that brand is #1 and a finance person will tell you budgeting and forecasting is #1. But seriously, it really is THE MOST important thing. Having a plan and an intention (goal) of what you set out to achieve each period is crucial. Those goals and objectives then flow down into the rest of the business (i.e; sales, marketing and financials) and form the basis of those plans.
What are your biggest tips to help business owners spend more time working ON their business and not IN their business?
Start with your WHY
Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing might sound simple but we’ve met many business owners who are struggling and spinning their wheels because their business has turned into something they aren’t happy with – and often they have stepped away from the core reason they started in the first place. No doubt there are times where you’ll wonder if you’re cut out for it, have you made a huge mistake or perhaps you’d make more money if you quit and went back to a paid job. But if you are clear on your why and you understand your motivation you are pursuing your passions and chasing what makes you truly happy – knowing and owning this will get you through those moments of doubt. This is so important when you are in growth phase and having to reinvest all your profits and are unable to draw a wage.
When planning and strategising, set the time aside, turn off all technology, work offsite if its possible and be disciplined. Don’t attempt planning when you’re super stressed and busy. At the end of last year we took an entire day out to set our financial, sales and marketing plans for 2018. We sat in a park by the water with our food and drink supplies and mapped it all out on butchers paper. We worked off a template we’ve created and set a timer to complete each section so we could walk away at the end of the day with the outline of a plan. We are most productive at the start of the day and tend to lose concentration when we get tired and hungry so we do the most challenging work early in the day.
Have a plan
Understand that having a plan is going to make all your other tasks easier and clearer. Just like having a content plan makes scheduling your social media content easier, having a business plan and knowing your goals makes the execution easier as you’re going to be working against a road map.
Set your intentions
it doesn’t have to be complicated. We suggest to our clients that they start with a realistic number $ for the year and work back from there. Be realistic about the number and brutally honest with yourself about the amount of hours you will need to work in the business to deliver it.
What are the common mistakes people make when starting a business?
- They don’t have a realistic budget and sales forecast and underestimate the costs of getting the business off the ground and when they start making sales they focus on revenue and not profit. We have written a detailed blog post about the 7 key things we feel potential small business owners needs to consider before taking the plunge.
- They don’t measure. We’ve been very surprised by the amount of small business owners who don’t use sales/financial reporting, google analytics or social media insights not to mention not measuring the return on investment of their marketing initiatives.
- They don’t adequately profile their ideal customer. So many business owners either don’t do this at all or do this in their head. Business owners need to know their customer, intimately. They can’t afford a scattergun approach as they don’t have huge marketing budgets. Along with the business plan objectives the customer profile forms the basis of the marketing plan – its crucial to ensure you are talking to the correct audience in the right way.
- They underestimate how time consuming social media management is (to get it right) and they think that having a social media presence is a marketing plan and don’t realise that social media is just a way of delivering the marketing strategy.
- Email Marketing can be a bit of an after thought and they don’t prioritise it from the outset. Unfortunately many small business owners realise too late that having 2,000 Facebook and Instagram fans is not the same as having 2,000 email subscribers.
- Some small business owners we’ve met are killing their confidence with comparison, and as Eleanor Roosevelt quoted ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. We fall prey to this ourselves from time to time and understand it well. We know its hard, but try not to compare. Stick to your own plan, benchmark outside your industry and play your own game.
Who absolutely nails their social media?
A hard question for us to answer as we admire so many! Some of the brands we are digging at the moment because we feel they are doing a great job to reach their ideal customer with fantastic images and kick ass copy.
@airbnb : Beautiful travel inspiration, cause who doesn’t want to be on holiday all the time!
@desenio : These guys really know how to rock a consistent colour palette to build brand recognition.
@poor.girls.pantry : Gorgeous images, heartfelt stories of truth and these girls serve their tribe with free recipes.
@jennakutcher : We admire Jenna for her brutal honesty, her promotion of positive body image and her free resources.
What’s your super power?
We are really good at telling people who would play them in a movie. Who would play you, we hear you ask Suki? Felicity Jones 🙂
What would be your #ogonebigtip for people struggling with their business?
Pay close attention to your ideal customer: As businesses we want to be heard, in fact we NEED to be heard to survive. Don’t be so busy talking your brand that you forget to listen to your customers.
Finally, how can people get in touch with you if they want to know more or work with you?
We offer free discovery calls where we can chat about your business challenges which you can book via our website: www.twogirlsandalaptop.com or follow us on social:
Helen has spent over 20 years in the telecoms industry specialising in Management and was the first of the duo to ditch corporate to follow her passion. Jacqui worked in telecoms after studying marketing. When she experienced corporate burn out, she packed up and moved overseas to pursue email marketing, before returning to Australia to team up with Helen to create Two Girls and a Laptop.
You can find out more about Helen and Jacqui at www.twogirlsandalaptop.com