Sharon Williams

Taurus Marketing chief executive Sharon Williams

Sharon Williams

Sharon Williams Blog

Floods, fires, back to school and election date – it’s all happening in the Year of the Snake

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I’ve just been lucky enough to have a month off, my business plan is written and I am back at work raring to go in this soon to be Year of the Snake. This year promises to be tough - but open to opportunity. With the extremes of fires and floods, it’s not lost that the snake signifies both fire and water – polar opposites.

The Snake is the sixth element in the Chinese horoscope and the counsel is that snakes are not harmful to people until you tease or harm them. The advice is to be conscious of your enemies (I read risks) and don’t make them angry or antagonise them or it could be dangerous. The horoscope also counsels to be attentive to what you say (the use of the tongue) because even a single word can appear hurtful or shameful to someone else. Pretty sound advice.

At a micro level, at Taurus we are preparing for the New Year and morale is high. We are working on our 15 tips to prepare for 2013:

1. Be mindful of this year's external pressures in planning business targets and be aware of the environment you operate in

2. Be conservative in your goal setting and then over perform

3. Set the plan, review it with advisors and financial advisers and present it to the team

4. Lock in your team and understand who is on board and who isn’t

5. Motivate the team – review job descriptions and KPI’s – get personal and professional goals signed off and agreed too

6. Sieve the business and get rid of anything you don’t need from equipment to old files

7. Cut paper use – be good to the environment

8. Formalise procurement and make it even more streamlined

9. Set budgets and set tracking criteria

10. Examine how to do more with less

11. Look to innovate and sell, sell, sell

12. Partner with people who you admire – the most successful business owners don’t do it alone

13. Meet and re-energise clients and don’t forget suppliers

14. Re-look at the brand and positioning of your company and you!

15. Treat you and the team with a reward, night out to celebrate the new year

At the CEO Institute annual kick off last week the issues raised and discussed were varied – productivity, the global economic outlook, lifestyle choices, managing costs for increased profit and social media. It was acknowledged by two guest economists that as a nation our economic situation is strong in spite of a negative media and an overspending government. It was tabled that conservatism is driving the culture of Australians right now in the face of European and US economic threats.

Lifestyle choices were high on the agenda as people react to wanting improved work/life balance and juggling children and careers. As a nation we are working harder than ever. There is still a way to go before the majority of companies are more flexible and accepting of working mothers. Portfolio careers are becoming the norm and traditional working models are changing as the internet is changing the way we work, hire, procure and behave. Even how we shop is being driven increasingly online.

At the conference, it was discussed how social media has gone mainstream and rather than influencing the way decisions are made, it is defining it. There was still a resistance expressed in the use and place of social media.

In contrast, a quick poll round my office today shows the team use social media to decide where to travel, choosing utilities and tradespeople, what films to see, what music is listened to and, in an election year, who to vote for. My colleague at UTS:INSEARCH in Sydney, the pathway provider to UTS says social media is the key influencer of students in their choice of career choices in University. It is literally re-defining our future. If you are not using social media, now is the time to get your presence on LinkedIn and Facebook established. If you are already there, move to a refresh and extend your effort. Try something new and advance what you are doing already.

As the snake suggests, be cognicent, alert and don’t antagonise. No need to rock the boat, but it could be time to brighten and lighten up Australia. Things aren’t quite so bad.

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