Our Community Manager, Celia Newlands, brings a wide variety of skills to the business.

“I run the Membership programmes, and as such, I’m always looking for new ways to help small businesses and sole traders within the community. As a natural part of the role of Community Manager, I’m often in a position to connect people who may be able to collaborate together in order to resolve both their problems, and as a result, grow both businesses. Over time, people have often joked about me being a ‘business dating service’ (I really hated that one!) and a small business surgery. The second nickname has kind of stuck and is now an integral part of our Membership offering.”

“I am meeting people at all different stages of running a business – from developing a great idea for a business, right through to struggling to grow past a plateau.
In the midst of working ‘inside’ the business every day, they often can’t see the proverbial ‘wood for the trees’, and having worked in change management, I am always looking in from the outside, which often makes it easier to see how simple tweaks could really improve things. And I don’t shy away from the hard questions – if I need you to see that your business will only grow if you stop micro-managing everyone, I will (gently) tell you! 😉”

“Some people might need to find Marketing support (and there are SO many different areas of speciality in that field), others a great Graphic Designer to help them build or create brand consistency. Maybe the reason the business isn’t growing is that they are undervaluing themselves and not charging enough, or maybe they have lost their passion in amongst the business development, and the numbers that don’t make sense, or they feel their staff are letting them down….

The list goes on, but my enthusiasm to find a solution doesn’t dilute – it’s what drives me, and gets me jumping out of bed every morning, excited to go to work (those who work with me will testify to this) – even on Mondays!”

The service is a general information offering, but Celia will try to tailor it as much as possible to peoples needs, based on the information they provide. Always trying to find a local service provider to help if she can, Celia is really passionate about growing the local economy. She will ask questions to help clarify the areas a business may be struggling with, or where they are seeking a service provider, before making suggestions of who may be able to assist. It will often consist of more than one option, so the business can compare and see which provider fits their needs best.

“I wanted to offer a local, centralised solution which met many different needs” says Celia.

“I try to help the client by letting them know what is available in their own community – often people want to make a human connection with a service provider, and as much as we can all search online for answers these days, sitting down for a face-to-face chat with someone you may be deciding to hand your hard-earned money to, or entrust with your clients, is sometimes the best option to gain a real sense of trust.
I don’t only recommend our Members in these circumstances of course – I am a real believer in authentic recommendation – and even if I’ve not used the services personally, but have worked with the person and feel they could be the right match, I will say that.
I know a little bit about a lot of business subjects, but in these situations, I am really a provider of information as opposed to a specialist (hence ‘small business surgery’!).
Finding the ‘specialist’ can be time-consuming, and having spent most of my career striving to provide excellent Customer Service, finding the right product or service to meet the client’s needs is something I’m proudly confident about.
I’ve built up a large network of local connections, and have researched significantly to find out what is available in our business community, so I can save people a lot of time if they need assistance and aren’t sure where to look.”

Contact Celia if you are interested in becoming a Member and utilising the ‘small business surgery’. (07) 3180 1615

We’ve all been there (and if you’re reading this, you’re probably there right now). The clock ticks by, and with it your productive working hours, but you find yourself doing anything but the project at hand.

You chat to colleagues, flick through emails and social media, and ignore the growing project pile on the desk in front of you. You head home, determined to make a fresh start, but find yourself caught in a Netflix vortex and before you know it another day has slipped by.

But are we looking at procrastination all wrong? Could procrastination actually be serving a very real (and very valued) purpose? Could it be that you don’t have to feel guilty? Could we look at TIME in a different way?

The answer to all of the above? A resounding YES. But also NO. Here’s why.

Procrastination as a virtue, not a vice

Our culture idolises busy-ness. Go, go, go at all costs. Don’t stop. Check notifications. Respond immediately. Be across everything and don’t you dare stop for a minute. It’s no wonder that sometimes our brains put up a little STOP sign.

But why the stop sign? What is procrastination trying to tell us?

It could well be that you’re procrastinating over a particular task because your ideas and concepts aren’t fully formed yet. Imagine being a painter and forcing yourself to sit in front of an easel and DEMAND of your creative self to create a beautiful landscape between the hours of  9 and 5 that very day. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But just because we’re in business doesn’t mean that we don’t still have creative minds. Perhaps procrastination is part of the creative process as your brain mulls over different concepts and takes its time to fully formulate ideas before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

Another potential reason for procrastination is that you may be run down. Sickness, both physical and mental, can take quite the toll on our capacity to produce our best work. Give yourself time and space to rest and recover rather than beating yourself up about not performing at your best when you’re down in the proverbial dumps. No one can be their best at all times – not even Beyonce. If you wouldn’t expect your colleagues to work at 100% all of the time, why would you place those same standards on yourself?

Maybe you don’t feel comfortable with what you’re doing. Maybe it’s not the right ‘fit’. Maybe your procrastination is really the universe telling you that something’s not right. Take the time and space you need to look at things from a fresher angle. It’s okay that you can’t get that task done today. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

When Procrastination is your Worst Best Friend

Before you pat yourself on the back for all of your procrastination, consider that sometimes there are negative reasons behind all of your workplace mucking around.

Is the task too hard? Delegate, prioritise and move forward. Do you just not want to do it? Fashion the task into something that sparks joy. Missing key information? Get all the pieces in place before you start work. Not gelling with your team mates? See if you can shake things up.

Scared of starting something big? Reframe your mindset. We have anxiety about making big moves because they ask us to jump out of our comfort zones.

Procrastinators Unite! Eventually!

What’s your procrastination really telling you? Stop reading this article and get back to work to find out.

Referring to ‘Sleep Is Vital…’ article by Michael Thomas 19 Feb 2019

Member Guest Blog – thanks to Geoff Brearley, from Bayside Sleep Health.

In this interesting ‘sleep experiment’ article, the author has mentioned a number of present-day dysfunctional beliefs, and true facts, about sleep. 

Work hours, sleeping hours, daytime functioning, napping, foods, concentration and mood are certainly all inter-related to sleep – or lack of it.

  • There is no doubt that we currently live in a ‘24/7’ world, whether we like it or not. 
  • Twenty-four hours of television, movies, food availability, smartphone device and Internet access, even gymnasiums, are all available during normal daytime hours, and seriously unearthly night time hours. 
  • Add in the pressures of increased performance demands at work, more deadlines, more tasks, and the expectation of instantly responding to text messages and emails, is it any wonder that we sometimes physically and mentally struggle with daily life, including fatigue, poor memory and concentration, and irritability?  Why is this so hard?

Why are we choosing to engage with any or all of these activities during the night at the expense of sleep? 
The answer is simple – we have forgotten about the importance of sleep to our overall health and well-being.  You have all heard of the “Three Pillars of Health’ – Diet, Exercise and Sleep. 
– Do we spend around eight hours a day actually eating?  No. 
– Do we spend around eight hours a day exercising?  No, unless of course we are one of the chosen few to compete at Olympic Games or elite sports level – so for most of us, no.

So why then is it necessary to allocate around eight hours at night to the single longest behaviour we engage in (or should do) every 24 hours?  The answer – sleep must be important.  Sleep is the essential, fundamental pillar of health.

As the author indicates in his article, he thought it was easy to experiment with sleep timing and duration in order to fulfil workplace demands.  But that approach is completely the wrong way around. 
Firstly, there is no denying that we humans have evolved to be active creatures by day and restful sleepers by night – that process has only taken a few hundred thousand years to be set in our DNA. 
But secondly, why do we think we can adjust that anyway, or instantly, to suit the 21st century?  We cannot and should not.  Quality sleep at night is the priority.

The body operates on a biological circadian clock found deep within the brain and has evolved to function on two factors only – whether it is light, or whether it is dark; simple as that. 
Whatever our busy, active days look like starting at sunrise, and reducing at sunset, the one thing we all should have in common is sleep need, sleep ability and sleep opportunity; not sleep reduction or sleep deprivation.  Sleep research has shown that normal healthy adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep, every night (not just on week nights) for normal, healthy, effective daytime functioning, every day, including weekends.

During good quality, restful sleep at night, restoration and repair of the physical body occurs during the deep sleep cycles. 

And no less importantly, mental restoration tasks take place during our lighter sleep dream cycles.  While the actual dream content is often nonsensical (regardless of our memory of them), this part of sleep is equally essential mentally, for good decision-making, problem-solving ability, coping skills and stable mood by day. 
So, if we have bedtime and waking hours at random, all over the place, of varying less-than-optimum lengths, we cannot possibly function well physically, or be mentally alert or pleasant to others next day. 
Research also shows that there are increased risk factors linking sleep deprivation with poor mental health (including depression and anxiety) and poor physical health (including cardiovascular disease and diabetes).

As the author later positively discovered in his own ‘experiment with sleep’, his adjustments to quality, quantity and timing of his sleep produced seemingly amazing results.  But realistically, he simply returned to normal, healthy, happy, productive and efficient daytime functioning, as we all can.

So, ask yourself, what do you need to change about your sleep behaviours (or lack of) to make your days much more productive, effective and healthy again? 

To find the answer, sleep on it!

Geoff Brearley, Sleep Psychologist

Bayside Sleep Health, Wynnum, QLD.
makesleepyourfriend.com

We held our 3rd annual celebration of Flexible Working Day last week.

Each year, to help promote the flexible work concept, we offer free coworking desks, to let people from the local area and surrounds see what flexible working might actually look like for them. And to show that there is an option in between working from home and commuting to the office.

There was an incredible varied mix of professions including :
Virtual Assistance | Project Management | Marketing | Accounting | Management Consulting | Introvert Business Coaching | Cabinet-making | Environmental Science | Autism Mentoring.
Having all of that expertise in the one space was one of those moments where I felt really, really proud of what we have created and achieved within the community at Central Business Associates.

workspace
Flexible workspaces

I was delighted to be asked to be a Flexible Working Day Ambassador by the team at Flexible Working Day .

I was able to showcase the fact that I have truly worked flexibly for the past 14 years, since my first son was born. This has not always been easy (nor is it yet), but it has always allowed my family the flexibility we needed for our lives.
Our need for flexibility has changed consistently over the years, but I have become better at adjusting after each iteration!

When I decided to write an article to go into the Flexible Working Day magazine, I did my usual procrastination trying to decide what to write, when to write it, until eventually, the head of procrastination remembered she had the perfect solution – our new copywriting coworker!
True to her usual level of excellence in her field, she was easily able to write a wonderful piece about the benefits of flexible working, and to write it from my experience.*

Collaboration

This is just another example of the incredible success of true collaboration within a community.
To have the amount of expertise available in one office that we now have, puts us in the enviable position of being able to all offer so many more services to our individual clients.
We can manage the whole process ourselves, and remain our clients point of contact, but not need to ‘do’ the work ourselves.
By accepting that we cannot be all things to all people, and getting experts in each field to carry out the tasks, we provide our clients with a much higher level of service than we could do alone.

What’s not to love about flexible workspaces and collaboration and sticking to what you’re great at?!

*to read the amazing article I refer to, head here (2019 magazine, page 24, ‘My Journey in the World of Flexible Working’). To connect with the amazing copywriter we use, click here and let us know, and we will put you in touch!

What collaboration means to me…

I really wanted to take a bit of time to delve in to explain what collaboration means to me –  why I feel it is such an important part of what we do here at Central Business Associates, but also why it is of great importance for us all to learn how to do it, and do it well!

You really do say it a lot…!

I know, I know! I never particularly used the word ‘collaborate’ until I began planning the concept of Central Business Associates, but I found myself naturally saying the word increasingly when I was explaining my business concept, and also came to realise that I had been ‘collaborating’ for my whole working life! It was actually one of my major strengths, so I started looking more closely at it.
My research found me suddenly seeing the word everywhere  (you know how that happens – it feels like coincidence, but it’s just your brain seeing what was always there, in a new light!), but there were varying ways that it was being perceived and understood. So I wanted to clarify to you what it means to me, and how I use itin this business, so you can understand how it might benefit you, and how you can access the relevant services for you.

Teamwork!

For me – collaboration is about teamwork – it’s about recognising you can’t do it all alone, or more to the point – you don’t have todo it all alone! If we all work together and use our strengths, we don’t have to battle away alone, and try and do the things that we are not so good at (or that we secretly really don’t enjoy doing!). It’s about give andtake – for a partnership to work, everyone has to be bringing a strength to the table, or the imbalance will eventually weigh heavy on the relationship. But it’s also not about expectingsomething every time you give – it’s about the teamwork – knowing that if the other person or people can help you, they will.
Knowing you have a group of people who have your back is an amazing feeling, and makes you all stronger – isn’t that worth pursuing?

What is your purpose? What is your ‘Why’?

Why are we here? What is the meaning of life?

 

Jeez, got any harder questions for me, small business world / other parents / family / world in general?

If, like me – you are exhausted with being asked all these things, and you are weary of reading articles on how to be a small business owner, or an entrepreneur, or a parent, or a good human being – welcome to my world of ‘no judgement’!
I welcome you into my like-minded little cocoon, where no-one is going to ask you to fill out a form to say what are the 3 things you are most passionate about, or your strengths and weaknesses, or your purpose, or your ‘Ikagai(Japanese concept – ‘reason for being’.)

Welcome to quiet.

Just breathe.

I’ll put the kettle on and make us a cup of tea. (just black tea here, no herbal, green, not even peppermint or an Earl Grey in sight!)


Welcome to warmth, and fluffy clouds, and mindfulness….. (WHAT, wait a minute?!)

No, but seriously – it all gets too much sometimes doesn’t it? The expectation we put on ourselves to know it all. To have life figured out, to be ‘the best you’, to have everything organised – to have your s**t together basically.

Well, I’m here to say I don’t agree. (sucks in breath like a mechanic looking at your car…) – a bit controversial Celia – I’m interested to see where you’re going with this…

Can we all please just slow down?

 

Accept that we are all very different – we have different things going on in our lives, we have different strengths and weaknesses, and therefore – we CANNOT BE ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE, and WE ARE NOT DESIGNED TO BE PERFECT.

My idea of perfect is different to your idea of perfect anyway. My perfect day is different to yours. My way to relax is probably different to yours. And that’s all perfectly OK.

 

So what’s the point of todays rant? It’s a combination of things – it’s my frustration at constantly seeing people around me trying to match up to others expectations, and then being horribly disappointed in themselves when they don’t meet the other persons ‘standards’. It’s then seeing these strong, clever, talented individuals begin to wear themselves down over a period of time, about not being ‘good enough’… And it’s about the fact that we all need to

STOP

BREATHE

(now, have that cup of tea I made you earlier – this is essential.)
Now – do you have a place that is your ‘comfort zone’? It might be somewhere you can be on your own (I’m not going to lie – one of mine is the bathroom at home – and even then, the dog sits outside the door with her tail sticking underneath, just to let me know she is there…). Or it might be a networking event that is full of like-minded people who ‘get you’. Maybe it’s even going supermarket shopping (alone!) on autopilot.
Just somewhere that you feel good, or feel comfortable, and you can STOP your brain.
Here’s some more examples of mine: 

 

at my kids swimming lesson, playing word games on my phone

    • – I feel rested and content (as long as I’m winning..!)
  • at my kids gymnastics class for 90 minutes, reading LinkedIn articles that I’ve saved 6 months ago (ok, more like 2 years ago!)
    • – I feel like I’m learning new things
  • in my shared office space, laughing with the other parents who work from there, about the latest disaster in my life (it feels good to laugh about it afterwards, rather than mull over it).
    • – I put things into perspective, and knowing that others have similar things going on in their lives helps. And sometimes someone has a brilliant solution for me that I hadn’t considered!
  • Out and about in my community, popping into local shops and buying gifts
    • – I feel connected to my community, and good about supporting the local economy

You know what? You need to figure out where your ‘moments’ are, and conserve them, and don’t skip them.

And over time, when you are feeling calm and comfortable, and rested – THEN maybe you can write down some thoughts on what your passions are, and what your purpose in life is, and how you can figure out ways to improve your life.
Take a moment to smell the roses (or the jasmine in my case). But don’t try and do it because you feel you have to, or let others rush you into figuring it all out.
You are YOU, and you have your own greatness – and once you are ready, you can open the door of the cocoon and proudly show it off.
But for now, concentrate on finding the ‘moments’, savouring them, and eventually using them to slowly figure it all out.

Disclaimer: Yes, I did mostly write this about myself, and no, I haven’t got it all figured out yet. But I’m a lot clearer than I was, because I’ve found my moments and used them wisely!

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration and Problem-Solving

One of the biggest challenges for any new business can be Business Development, Sales, Self-promotion – whatever you want to call it…
Add in a big dose of ‘introvert’ and ‘been a stay-at-home-mum for many years‘, and as you can imagine, the challenge just gets bigger!

I absolutely LOVE ♥ what I do – I get to help entrepreneurs, micro and small businesses work through issues they have, or connect them to collaborative opportunities, or find the services they need at a price they can afford – these things are so fulfilling for me, that most of the time, it seriously doesn’t even feel like work.

However – ask me to promote MYself, or MY business – well, that’s just too hard!

But what if we turn it around, and think about what happens if we don’t self-promote? What about all the people who are coming into the world of small business, or coming up with new entrepreneurial ideas – what if all they see is us, hiding ourselves away, not wanting to ‘talk about ourselves’? Hmm, not much inspiration there then… Maybe I shouldn’t bother trying to bring this new product to market – looks too hard – I’ll just shelve it.
BOOM – there goes the cure for the common cold…! ( just to give you some perspective on the importance of stepping up!)

So I recognised that there were two much more comfortable elements for me instead of ‘self-promoting’ – Inspiration, and Problem-solving. I can Inspire other people by telling my story, and showing that no matter how terrifying it all seems, it IS possible to put yourself out there. And I can Problem-solve instead of self-promoting – tell people what problem I fix by providing whatever my service or product is.

So I started to tell my story, and explain how my services can solve problems – and you know what – it felt so much easier!
Below is one of the interviews I did with a wonderful local woman who asked me to share my story – and I actually really enjoyed it, even though it was a teensy bit uncomfortable to start with!

Have a think about how you can tell your story, and explain how and why you do what you do – and what problems it solves.. If you still struggle to see how you can present it, give me a call, and let’s see if we can figure it out together – while we cowork of course!

Just over a year ago, I wrote an article on LinkedIn about flexible working (you can read it here), and this month I found myself back researching, this time from a local perspective. I recently got in touch with the creator of a new facebook page – another local mum. Frustrated by the lack of jobs available during school hours, she had set up the page to see if there are others in a similar situation – keen to get back into the workforce, but not so keen on going back to full-time hours at this point in time. Within a matter of a few days, the page already had almost 300 members, almost entirely Mums within our community!

The whole workplace flexibility issue came back to the forefront of my mind.

What you may not be aware of, is that I have been running my business for the past two and a half years on flexible hours

I have two children at school in our local community, and one of my initial reasons for opening the flexible workspaces was to be able to create an income for myself which didn’t require commuting to the city, and wasn’t going to be awkward if either of my kids needed me for any reason. Being in another country at the other side of the world from our family means less opportunities to call on someone to help out when things don’t go to plan! I’m a ‘give everything to whatever I’m doing’ kind of a person, so the idea of letting my work down, or letting my kids down, was not something I wanted to do. So the reality is I drop the kids at school in the morning (and it’s two schools now – primary and high school), so I’m not at work until about 9am, and then I have to leave at about 2.30pm to start the school pickup process… And eat lunch at some point…

Imagine trying to start up a new business, and only being available during those hours to meet people, to talk about the services we could offer, and then to actually make it all happen. It wasn’t pretty that first year or so, I can tell you – but the more people who got involved, who understood the concept, who became workspace users – the more I was able to breathe out and relax a little. And the more people realised where I was in my chaotic life, the more they opened up about how crazy theirs was too, and we were able to start finding solutions for the crazy – helping each other out when things got difficult, and spreading the word about how it was ok to admit that we weren’t actually available to work 9-5 every day, we couldn’t attend those breakfast networking events, but that these things had no impact on how good we were at our jobs! In some cases, being able to let go of that guilt of trying to pretend we are as available as someone who is working full-time, with no commitments, actually makes us better, more focused – more productive and relaxed. How good does that sound?!

happy workers

So – when I heard about Flexible Working Day, and Flexible Working Week – I re-ignited my passion to help others push the world towards having more options available – for everyone – this is not a ‘women thing‘, or a ‘Mum‘ thing – there are so many people looking for flexible options, for so many different reasons – sports people who want to pursue their activity, and need flexibility to attend events or competitions, people who are on the way towards retirement, but who want to stay active in their career for longer, and PARENTS – male and female –
statistics show that Dads DO want flexibility – a Workplace Gender Equality Agency report states:

  • 79% of young fathers would prefer to choose their start and finish times but only 41% actually currently do.
  • 79% of young fathers prefer to work a compressed work-week but only 24% actually do.
  • 56% of young fathers would prefer to work part of their regular hours at home while only 13% actually do.
We opened up the flexible workspace for free on Wednesday 21st June, to celebrate and raise awareness of Flexible Working Day – we had some new faces come in a try out the coworking desks. I also shared my story of how I came to be working flexibly – you can read it here Suburban life – coworking & collaboration credit: B Donnet - Neuroworks Labs

I think there is some good traction happening in this area, and I look forward to seeing what I can do as my part in it all – no matter how small, all movement towards change is good. I’d love to hear others ideas or experiences, so feel free to email me on collaboration@centralbusinessassociates.com.au

Customer Service

How often do we actually ASK our customers what they want?

Do we get too focussed on what we like, what we want to be doing, on what we THINK they want?

Do you carry out customer satisfaction surveys, customer care calls? These touch-points with your existing or past customers can be the lifeblood of your business, and if you are not doing them, your competitors might be….

Every customer who doesn’t return means extra Business Development for you to find new clients – imagine if they all came back, over and over again…

Contact us if you’d like some assistance in this area – we love helping businesses improve their Customer Service, and have many years of experience of customer care and retention.

For more thoughts, read Celia’s full article on LinkedIn – and if you’ve not connected with her yet, please do so while you are there!