The Power of Building Customer Trust

By Kathy Wilson

Trust is tough to gain, quick to lose. As a business owner every social media post, newsletter or product you put into the world should help your customers learn to trust - and value you. This is essential to your business success and I'm going to show you why.  Let's start with a story to illustrate my point...

As you walk into the Real Fitness Centre, the first thing you notice is a slightly dog-eared black and white photograph. It is a candid snapshot of a smiling 70-something lady with dumbbells in both her hands.

Kim Johnston, who is the gym’s owner and a client of mine, tells me that this is a photograph of her first client Clara; her neighbour who used to suffer from weak knees and immense joint pain.

Clara had tried several fitness centres, and not one of them offered customised workouts that suited her age and fitness level. Because they were already friends, Kim knew that Clara couldn’t afford personalised training so they struck a deal. Kim helped her develop a workout that suited her needs – and Clara would provide Kim with all the Mango-chilli chutney could use.

“It was amazing chutney,” Kim laughs, “and even better, working with Clara gave me the confidence and the motivation of breaking into this niche segment of women’s fitness.”

This single story about Kim, tells me so much about her mission, her values and her motivations. It rings truer than the thousands of likes on her Facebook. Next time I want to recommend a fitness centre to a friend or family, I will think of Kim not only because she’s great at what she does but also because we seem to share the same values.

And that is the lesson for entrepreneurs who want to succeed online.

To work with you, I need to trust you. I need to relate to you. Unlike businesses that were run decades ago, we do not have the privilege of being in the same location or the facility of meeting each other face to face. The unknown face behind the computer and the public profile on social media although informs me of who you are, it doesn't tell me much about you. My reassurance of you comes from what I know about you and who I perceive you to be. Your story is your most powerful tool. Who are you? What do you believe it? Why should I trust you?

Leanne Faulkner, founder of Fortitude at Work, a mental health consultancy shares “ Be brave and tell your story honestly. I think failure has been my greatest success.  If I hadn't really had that breakdown, which my husband calls a breakthrough, I wouldn't be advocating for mental health for small business owners”. She started Fortitude at Work, due to her personal battle with stress in running her first venture, which she had to let go of due to the stress and anxiety of running a business.

The vulnerability in her story makes her relatable and I would feel positive about reaching out to and working with Leanne. Knowing her motivations and her journey will help me to believe that she can truly make a difference to my situation. This is true not just for service based industries but product based as well.

After spending years in the corporate world, Emma, co-founder of Emma and Toms decided to start out on her own venture of fresh juices with the belief “In business, the relationships you develop are really important and treating people fairly and with respect is the way to have good business relationships”.

This is an entrepreneur whose philosophy I buy into and so I would love to buy her products as well. Now, telling your story isn’t always comfortable. But as soon as you enter the online arena a story is being told about you anyway through your posts and videos and updates. An impression is being formed, which can either build or take away from you trust quotient.

So tell me. What story are you telling online?

Kathy Wilson used the power of the internet storytelling to land her dream job as a travel writer. She now builds courses that show others the exact steps she followed to use the power of the online reputation to transform careers.

21 Downloadable Quotes For Every Creative Entrepreneur

If you're as quote obsessed as I am you'll love today's post. As businesswomen, we’ve certainly got a lot to juggle. Whether you’re a career woman climbing up the corporate ladder or you’re an entrepreneur, the key to success is all about reminding yourself what you are made of.

That’s why I love that FTD put together these 21 most encouraging quotes for businesswomen everywhere and are sharing them with us today. From quotes about what it means to achieve success to quotes that will remind you to stay confident no matter what life throws at you, these quotes will certainly stir up your creativity and uplift your spirits. They also created these visuals so that you can easily spread the message. For more inspiration, check out their post for more words of encouragement!

To download simple right click on the images below, save to your desktop and hang in your office for daily inspiration!

Quotes on success

1.     “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.” — Helen Keller
2.     “Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.” — Ingrid Bergman
3.     “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” — Estée Lauder
4.     “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” — Oprah

Quotes on determination and persistence
5.     “Life shrinks or expands in proportion with one’s courage.” — Anaïs Nin
6.     “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends.” — J.K. Rowling
7.     “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” — Rosa Parks
8.     “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” — Malala Yousafzai
9.     “Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.” — Martha Graham

Quotes on being strong and confident

10.  “The most beautiful thing you can wear is confidence.” — Blake Lively
11.  “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
12.  “I think the best way to have confidence is not to allow everyone else’s insecurities to be your own.” — Jessie J
13.  “When there is no struggle, there is no strength.” — Oprah
14.  “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” — Judy Garland

Quotes on making decisions
15.  “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” — Amelia Earhart
16.  “I know for sure that what we dwell on is what we become.” — Oprah Winfrey
17.  “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not making decisions.” — Catherine Cook
18.  “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” — Katharine Hepburn
19.  “You learn something out of everything, and you come to realize more than ever that we’re all here for a certain space of time, and, and then it’s going to be over, and you better make this count.” — Nancy Reagan

Quotes on staying optimistic
20.  “If you don’t have any shadows you’re not in the light.” — Lady Gaga
21.  “When you notice that you’re having negative thoughts about how all of this is going to pan out, you need to remind yourself that you are not a very good fortune teller.” — Donna W. Hill

The Most Perfect Example Of How You Just Need To Start...

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By Diana Miller

Sharing beauty with the world through my art is what drives me. I thrive on connecting with others through this medium and to inspire them to live their own life doing the things that bring them a sense of fulfilment.

My name is Diana Miller, and I have joined the creative collective to adorn the world with beautiful paintings and art products that express who I am. But it’s more than just about me. It’s about us. You and me. True happiness is when I am able to give some of my own goodness to others and help them to feel the joy too. My greatest desire? To infuse my work with emotion, passion, movement and energy. The result? A unique artwork that offers every observer their own interpretation and feeling - peace, beauty, exploration, love, joy.

"A picture really is worth a thousand words”

MY STORY
A year ago I was living in Brisbane, I had a small studio where I painted from but no career path and little self belief. Today I am represented by Art Piece Gallery in Mullimbimby and Fenton & Fenton in Melbourne and I am resident artist at the Newrybar Merchants in Newrybar in the Byron Bay hinterland. And I am living my perfect life.

How did I make this shift in the short space of a year? You may have heard the poetic words of Claire Bowditch in her song ‘Amazing Life’. ‘You want an amazing life, but you can’t decide. You don’t have to do just one thing, but you have to start something.’

And start I did. But only after the whirlwind that I call my previous life. Here’s my journey from hobby painter to full time artist. Since immigrating to Australia with my Toowoomba-born builder husband 13 years ago we have ridden the waves of life together – (and my life mirrors the layered tapestry of my paintings) filled with change, upheaval, unexpected twists and turns with 22 house moves and as many property deals. Blessed with the highest of highs – 2 beautiful children, incredible friends, opportunities, and returning to my art practise, and the lowest of lows –homesickness, health challenges, losing our life savings and shortly after that losing our house in the Brisbane floods, my life reflects typical ebbs and flows that have informed all I have created so far.

In December 2014 I found myself in a pretty dark and unhappy place. My husband and I had just been featured on Grand Designs for the container home he created. We were enjoying the fruits of that labour by living in it. For various reasons (not exciting enough to mention here), we sold that property and downscaled to a small, dark and hot little rental home while planning our next move. That was the beginning of a period of unrest for me, personally and with regards to the direction I would take with my art making. Not unlike a squirrel scampering around for forage, I was feeling frantic looking after everyone else in my family, running here, running there but forgetting to look after my own needs. My tank was running on empty.

Painting and creativity had become second priority even though it was always the thing that would give me my lease on life each day. In those moments of feeling empty I would yearn to paint, and even more, make something of my art, perhaps a commercial career, but I felt ill equipped and lacking in the knowledge I felt I needed to “make a go of it”. Funnily enough, I had been told by a clairvoyant 14 months prior that I had a brilliant business brain and that I was going to be a successful business owner. I laughed that off believing my own story that I was not capable of that. Lucky for me though fate stepped in and I was able to undo those unhelpful beliefs that I later realized were keeping me chained.

Knowing that my art was essential to my emotional and mental wellbeing and that not making art was not an option, I began to ask myself how I could rekindle my painting habit AND turn my hobby into a business. A real business.

Enter the Universe…. I saw an ad on facebook for the Conquer Club (an online international business course for female entrepreneurs), and it immediately appealed to me. Before I knew it I was chatting on a webinar with Kylie Patchett and Natalie McNeil (the founder of She Takes on the World and the Conquer Club) and before I could say no to myself, I had signed up to both the Inner Circle of the Conquer Club and the Mind Money Mojo course with Kylie.

It was a big financial commitment, but I KNEW I had to do something extraordinary for ME. It was time. Despite the fear of the unknown and the even bigger fear of having to put myself out there I knew I had committed myself to the thing that gave me purpose – my art.

I can wholeheartedly say that without those 2 courses there is no way I would have achieved everything I did in 2015 or seen the growth and opportunities arising so far in 2016.

THE UNEXPECTED
You would think that partaking in a business course would only enlighten you to the pragmatics of the business world – financials, systems, marketing. What I didn’t bargain for was that I was also getting the foundational learning that ultimately determines your success in anything you do. Mindset. Through the mindset work of Kylie Patchett, I was taken on a confronting AND freeing journey to unravel and release emotional blockages that were impacting on my beliefs and thinking patterns. I went from self-limiting beliefs of not being good enough as an artist or business person to transformative patterns of not just thinking, but knowing ‘I can do this.’

With all things good, it was not easy. It took commitment on my part to be honest with myself, to acknowledge my hurts, apply the tools taught to me to move through them and then create what it was that I did want in my life. One statement really stood out for me during the course work and it was this: “The success of a business is directly linked to the emotional wellbeing of it’s owner.”

Akin to a magic spell, things started to fall into place as I experienced these positive shifts in my mindset. I created a vision board with my hopes and dreams for the year, got clear on my goals and wrote them up big and bold for the universe to see. Within 3 months of doing that, the “move to Bangalow” became a step closer as we secured a block of land there. My work started selling more, even though I’d put my prices up, I got invited and accepted into art shows, held my solo show and almost sold out. Opportunities came knocking on my door as I ventured into an activewear and swimwear collaboration and my first range of art cushions. And then the greatest thing of all happened… my husband and another business owner from the area facilitated the creation of the “Newrybar Merchants” in Newrybar, 5 minutes from Bangalow. This was to be my new work space complete with my own studio and gallery space to display my work. Early December saw us make the sea change to the idylic location of Bangalow and I soon got representation with Art Piece Gallery in Mullumbimby. To add to the magic happening all around me, Fenton & Fenton approached me to be one of their artists and I am now represented by them! And all of those opportunities came to me just by me doing what I love to do… paint!

To say I’m stoked is an understatement. I always thought it was a load of nonsense when mentors made it all sound so simple – that all you had to do was do that thing that you were so intensely passionate about. Yet, I am experiencing now the truth of that concept. It is a subtle but powerful shift from thinking you can do it to BELIEVING with utter resolve that what you are doing is worth it. I think the confusion comes when people think you think good thoughts and then sit and wait for good things to happen. No you don’t. You get up each and every morning and work on that thing you love without fail. Just like you feed your body each day. And it’s the work you put in because of the love of what you do that brings more of what you want to you.

In summary, I’d like to share a few key things that I have learnt in my journey from hobby to professional artist, in the hope that it might inspire someone out there to go and grab the life they deserve.

1. You have one life to give your dreams a crack. What are you waiting for?
2. Failure is always a stepping stone to something greater.
3. I believe you need a clear vision or statement that you live by in the forefront of your mind. I live by the motto on my fridge “Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life” Anthony Robbins.
4. Beliefs are created in childhood and can cause emotional blockages in the body. Find yourself a great kinesiologist or a form of therapy that works for you and go and get help to clear them out. It can take a bit of time but you will feel a whole lot lighter when that work is done!
5. Self care is essential to everything! So meditate, do yoga or whatever it is that makes you happy and keeps you centred and at peace. It’s imperative if you want to create an aligned and healthy business.
6. Its okay to put yourself out there. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Its all part of the learning and the journey.
7. Its okay to put yourself first.
8. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen? More often than not you will laugh at how silly the answer is ☺
9. The stuff your parents told you wasn’t necessarily true. I was told “you will never make a living as an artist”, and so I studied Graphic Design instead of Fine Art. I don’t regret any of it… my path to becoming a full time artist has probably been a lot more interesting than if I had studied art! But that belief that “I won’t make it as an artist” certainly got embedded in me and has taken a long time to shift…
10. Be proud of your achievements and celebrate them. Always celebrate the achievements of others around you. You duplicate the wonderful energy that way.

You can connect with Diana, here or on Facebook or Instagram.

5 Ways To Improve Your Living Room // Style File

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By Ashlee Gerrard

When it comes to living rooms everyone has their own personal style, we all have an idea of what we like and what we’d prefer to have in our living room but sometimes it can feel like we just need that little extra something to fill the gap…. but what with?

I want to show you 5 key pieces to help freshen up your living room and help give you ideas if you are just needing something little to finish your living room off.  You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars, think about what your want to do and what you think will look good with your living room, then look around to find the perfect pieces and the price your happy with! 

As you can see we have used a before and after photo for our living room shoot. With the before photo you can still see this as a great living room, lots of natural right and lots of space, to help add some warmth into this living room the 5 key pieces we are focusing on today are; Coffee table, Fresh flowers, Cushions, Lamps and Photos. Flowers are always great to have in your home, they create a beautiful fresh feeling, in our picture we are using Singapore Orchids they come in crisp white or bight yellow, there are about $12 a bunch and last up to 2 weeks, they are affordable and look great! Place these on your coffee table to help create that fresh look.

Cushions are a big one for me, I love having something to snuggle into when I’m on the couch, plus cushions can create a great pop of color if your not going to be using any artwork in your living room, cushions are a great substitute for this. Lamps can create a certain lighting in a room, which is great for the living room, if its night time and you’re wanting to watch a movie and still want some light a lamp is the perfect solution. We have two lamps showing in our picture the floor lamp as well as the table lamp in-between the two couches. Floor lamps will generally offer more light, but if your just after something subtle then a table lamp is what your after!

A nice final touch to finish off your living room is to add a few of your favorite pictures and place them in a nice frame. Best location would be TV unit, side table or library shelf. As you can see in our after photo, we have used a throw rug as well as some coffee table books, we have not added these into the top 5 key pieces, but they are definitely great extras to have.

Find out more tips from Ashlee over on her blog or on Instagram or Twitter.

Image by Two Guinea Pigs

The Design Files Open House

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If you've been following the Blog Society Instagram feed this past weekend you may have noticed an ambush of photos from our (not one, but TWO!) visits to The Design Files Open House, a unique and absolutely genius concept from blogger extraordinaire, Lucy Feagins from The Design Files.

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For the past 2 years Lucy has brought her blog to life through a real-time retail event where her branding, aesthetic and keen eye for style come to life.  Her and her talented team, clear out an entire house, filling it with covet-able brands and products in a stunningly beautiful atmosphere. The catch? Everything is on sale, everything.  For the past two years, myself and half of Sydney have watched jealously from afar until this year she brought her clever team to Sydney in what can only be described as the blogging event of the year.

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We were grateful to be invited to get a sneak peek and have little chat with Lucy herself, who has always been a supporter of Blog Society and is still one of the most down to earth, clever and humble bloggers we've had the pleasure of working with.  It was also inspiring to see her hard working team there by her side, providing yet again people that no man is an island - team and collaboration are key, they WILL take you further in your blogging career, trust me!

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It was a truly inspiring visit, not only from a design perspective (the house was AMAZING) but for a blogger seeing what can be done in terms of taking your blog to the next level and turning it into something much larger than itself, to really see a brand take shape and develop is an admirable thing.  Well done Lucy & team - you impressed Sydney and we can't wait to welcome you back next year!

x Jaclyn