Archive for 'Business'
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance may seem impossible as a business owner, but it is achievable, if not, necessary in running a successful business.
Not carving out time and space to enjoy your personal life, such as spending time with loved ones, exercising, travelling or enjoying your hobbies, can have a negative impact on your stress levels, ability to concentrate, and may even damage your relationships.
Consider the following tips to achieve a better work-life balance:
Overcommitting is a surefire way to add unnecessary pressure. Overscheduling your day, saying ‘yes’ to everything, and fearing delegation will see you lose time and efficiency in your business. You cannot perform at your best if you are trying to do too many things at once. Instead, give yourself some flexibility by delegating tasks and outsourcing where possible. This could mean paying an external company to manage your marketing, hiring an office cleaner or asking a staff member to take on a new task such as invoicing, etc.
Lead a healthy lifestyle
Living a healthy lifestyle helps to support your overall wellbeing and equips you with the tools to manage stress and hassles in the workplace more effectively. If you don’t think of yourself as “healthy,” a good starting point is to simply become more aware of your behaviours and coping mechanisms. For instance, you may notice you reach for a sugary drink when feeling overwhelmed or stay back at work late every day to “catch up on jobs.” Identifying these behaviours helps to map out options for dealing with unhelpful coping strategies.
Setting manageable goals daily helps to prioritise your workload and provides a sense of control over your day. Having control helps to ease associated stress and feel positive towards the work you are doing. Goal-setting is also useful in motivating you to meet your deadlines and eliminating unhelpful behaviours such as procrastination. Achieving your work-related goals also reinforces you to focus on your “personal” goals – therefore, creating more work-life balance.
Christmas can be a very exciting time for many, and it can also be the dreaded season for others.
Consider the following tips for celebrating Christmas in style, to ensure that all your staff get the most out of this period.
Office Christmas party
Holding a work Christmas party can be risky, particularly if alcohol is provided. People can take advantage of this and can see you and the business liable should something go wrong. For many employees, attending a Christmas party, especially one outside of business hours, can be quite a hassle.
The safest and easiest option to have a great Christmas party is to hold it in the office. Cater with delicious food, decide whether you want some kind of entertainment such as challenge games with a prize for the winning team, or a performer such as a comedian. If providing alcohol, limit the supply and be sure to provide low-alcohol options and soft drinks as an alternative. And most importantly, let everyone go home early after the party has wound up so they can spend time with their family or prepare for Christmas.
If you’re giving gifts, put thought into them
Giving gifts can take up your time; time that you could be spending with your family. So if you’re going to give gifts, put thought into them and make it worthwhile, otherwise there is no point. Perhaps instead of getting something meaningless for all your staff, organise an office Kris Kringle, with a monetary value for the present. To avoid anyone getting a useless gift, they can write three options for gifts within the monetary value they would appreciate, making it easier for everyone to purchase a great present.
Christmas is one opportunity to bring excitement and fun into the office. Decorating can bring the team together and make the stress of work seem to disappear. Not only do decorations make the working environment more pleasant for employees, but it also makes it exciting for customers.
Understanding what behaviours and factors which cause employees to waste time is important. Only when you understand why time is not being used efficiently can you implement strategies to overcome this.
Consider the following:
Technology helps us do things in a fraction of the time, it allows us to do things that are otherwise impossible to do from day to day. While it is extremely valuable, it is also one of the greatest distractions in the workplace. The amount of time employees spend checking their phones each day adds up and breaks down the flow of productivity. Another way technology becomes a time waster is when it isn’t working efficiently. Slow internet connection or slow software updates, failure to set up firewalls and virus protection can slow down an employee’s day drastically.
Lack of motivation
Employees who aren’t motivated are a big source of wasted time. Being motivated to get a task completed means you are going to complete it faster and to a higher quality. If employees aren’t motivated, they are likely to waste time procrastinating and doing anything other than the work they should be doing.
Failing to adapt
There could be ten processes to complete the one task, but only one of these will be the most efficient. Encourage staff to communicate about what the most efficient and beneficial process for completing tasks is and allow adequate time for training all staff how to use this process. Remember that even if staff know the faster process, if they don’t know how to complete this process, the work isn’t going to be completed any quicker.
Consistent branding is a big factor in your business’ marketing strategy – it can help build loyal customers, improve recognition and trustworthiness.
Businesses that adopt consistent branding techniques gain a competitive advantage by differentiating their products and services from other competitors in the market.
Staying consistent also helps to stay on track in delivering the brand promise to customers and clients through every single touch point.
Here are three ways to focus on delivering a consistent brand:
Similar tone and showcase personality
Whether your business is advertising via social media, TV advertisement or email campaign, the content should be similar in tone. Your marketing campaigns are a way to express your business’ personality and values, so make sure you deliver on this. Use similar language, adopt the voice to suit the type of marketing (i.e., conversational v formal) and stick to key messages for target audiences.
Colours, images, fonts, logos and so on all communicate your business’ brand and identity. Creating a style guide is very useful for communicating your expectations to a graphic designer. If the designer is given a vague brief with no rules or guidelines then you cannot expect their designs to match your overall brand. Ideally, your website, logo, physical store and various marketing communications need to be aligned.
Marketing communications can only go so far in proving your business is consistent. Customers and clients want to receive consistent service when they visit your store or office, call and email you. Invest in training your staff in customer service so customers can be guaranteed they will always have an enjoyable experience with your business.
Making your business stand out can be difficult; especially if you are offering the same services as your competitors.
No matter how big or small, or what the financial status of your business may be, there is one strategy any business can adopt to set you apart: customer relationships. Building and placing value on the relationships you build with customers is free. The main focus of these relationships is to truly value the customer as a unique individual and not just view them as another sale or a number. When people feel their transaction with your business has been genuine, the whole morale and attitude within the business can change for the positive and drive up profit.
Consider the following benefits of developing strong customer relationships:
Creates brand loyalty
It is highly unlikely that a customer will return to your business for future services and sales if they unsatisfied with their initial transaction. If they are happy with their transaction with your business and they leave feeling genuinely looked after and positive, chances are they will be back.
Increase in referrals
Word of mouth is a strong tool for generating more business. If a customer is not happy with the service they provided, they are likely to go straight to social media and discuss their transaction, speaking negatively about your business. On the flip side, a satisfied customer is likely to speak highly of and recommend your business to friends, and even strangers on community social media pages. A referral from an existing or previous customer is often more trustworthy than a marketing campaign, so placing value on treating existing customers with the utmost professionalism and diligence can see the business grow and profits increase.
Treating your customers well is a great marketing strategy. It is more cost effective to bring in more business through treating existing customers well (whilst making money) rather than splashing out on marketing campaigns that may or may not be as successful as you had hoped.
From time to time, it is normal for employee morale to take a plunge. Whether it is a stressful time at work or a major workplace change is occurring, employees may respond unfavourably.
However, if employee morale is low over substantial periods of time, it may point to problems with management and the overall culture of the business. Low morale can have devastating impacts on business too; low levels of employee satisfaction and productivity, and high rates of turnover.
Here are three ways to boost employee morale:
Show your staff you care about the work they do by celebrating accomplishments and milestones. Whether it is a good result on a project, meeting a challenging deadline or contributing a useful idea – it should be celebrated. This creates a culture where praise is normal and encourages colleagues to follow suit.
Incorporate fun into their work day
Morale can be greatly determined by an employee’s work environment. Encourage team-bonding by organising team activities such as bowling, go-karting, lawn bowls, etc., during work hours. Start up lunchtime activities, such as a running group or touch football in a nearby park. Celebrate staff member’s birthdays with cake and morning tea or go out for lunch. Although these may sound like obvious tips, they can be easy to forget during stressful times.
Encourage employees to speak up
Communication plays a big factor in employee morale. Implement an open-door policy, if you haven’t already done so. When staff know they can approach you with any question, concern or even idea they have, they are more likely to respect you and enjoy coming to work.
Many business owners are looking for ways to squeeze more into their cramped work schedules. But unfortunately, this may mean spending more time on unimportant tasks and not prioritising what really needs to get done.
Rather than multi-tasking or spending late nights in the office, consider implementing these tips to optimising your time and boosting your efficiency:
Even if you think you delegate enough, it is worth reviewing what tasks you delegate and if there are any more tasks that could be done by someone else. Learning to say ‘no’ is also a useful tool in improving productivity. Instead, you may suggest the task for another staff member or manager who is better equipped to deal with the task at hand.
Block off time in your day that won’t be interrupted to focus on relaxing activities such as reading, journaling, walking outside or even meditating. When you incorporate downtime into your daily routine it unleashes creativity, hence, improving your problem-solving skills and allowing for the creation of new ideas and so on.
Reduce time on meetings
Many meetings can be substituted for a simple email or phone call. When they must take place, be sure to create an agenda so they run on time and leave out information that can be sent in an email after the meeting.
Invest in technology
Instead of manually paying your bills, set up auto-payments to save time. Investing in cloud-based software is also useful in managing your expenses, payroll function, invoicing, accounting, time tracking and CRM. The benefits include less errors, more access to data at any-time and anywhere and a more integrated view on how your business is running.
Whether you have been running your business for over 20 years or just starting out, you cannot deny the importance of regularly reviewing your business’ performance.
Many business owners may put off reviews in fear of the actual results, but understanding why your business is performing the way it is is crucial for growth and development.
Consider these three crucial areas of your business when conducting a review:
Products and services
Think about the quality and delivery of your products and services. Do they solve a problem for your customer/client, fulfil a want or need, keep customers returning? Analysing trends in products and services will also help you to identify which products or services need to be altered or removed or if new ones are needed. Also, by regularly reviewing trends you may realise gaps in the market or opportunities you did not know existed.
Do you have a steady flow of loyal customers or are you struggling to make sales? This is a big factor in whether or not you need to change your business model. Be sure to take into consideration external factors that may influence sales, i.e., poor consumer spending in your industry, changes in technology, etc. If the type of customers you are attracting is changing also be sure to adapt to these changes appropriately, i.e., different marketing campaigns, honing in on a niche, hiring new staff to keep up with demand and so on.
Develop good financial procedures, such as visiting an accountant to receive financial statements, i.e., profit and loss, cash-flow statement and balance sheet. Financial statements analyse how your business is performing financially for a set time period. They indicate the general financial health of your business and can help you to recognise areas that require action.
Building a successful business is almost impossible without a group of motivated employees.
Here are three ways to keep your employees loyal to your business:
Hiring someone who doesn’t share the same vision or values as your business is detrimental. You need to hire people that fit well into your business’ culture and are willing to work hard in their roles. If staff see the job as just a paycheck, they will be more inclined to look for a job elsewhere. In the job interview, it is important to ask candidates questions regarding their personality fit and career goals.
Increase skill set
Employees need growth and development to stay motivated. Providing regular training and opportunities for employees to advance are great ways of achieving this. There will always be room to progress, either by increasing skill sets or responsibilities or moving to a higher position.
Offer incentives or perks
Financial rewards, i.e., a bonus or a gift is a great way to show your appreciation for your staff’s efforts. Although, offering non-monetary perks can be just as motivating, such as providing flexibility to work from home, opportunities for staff to volunteer or a day off as a reward for a job well done on a successful project. It is often the non-financial rewards that can have the biggest impact on staff morale and job satisfaction.
One of the best ways to market your brand in today’s business climate is digitally. However, without understanding the online environment, you can lose business. Consider the following flaws to avoid:
Not setting goals
Failing to set goals can leave your marketing strategy without any real drive or direction. Setting goals are necessary, not only for appreciating the direction in which your marketing strategy is headed but also for understanding if you and your team are meeting the marketing goals that have been set out. Without clear goals in place, evaluating success in your marketing plan will be virtually impossible and it is difficult to allocate responsibility for how effective or ineffective the marketing strategy is.
Failing to review
Analysing how effective the marketing strategy is extremely important; without doing so, understanding what is working best to drive business becomes difficult. Reviewing analytics in particular for digital marketing is one of the most efficient ways to discover how strong the marketing strategy is. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram provide business pages with an analytics tool that gives valuable information about the content you are sharing. Google Analytics is another tool that can be used to analyse how many clicks and how web users are engaging with your website. There is a wide range of software that can be utilised to track how your digital marketing is faring, so do some research and choose the program that will best serve the needs of your business.
Focusing on quantity not quality
A big mistake many businesses make online in relation to marketing is posting too much content. While it is necessary to get your business seen and heard online, it is counterproductive and can be harmful to focus on posting often rather than posting great quality content. One of the quickest ways to lose followers and potential customers is to bombard them with your content, particularly if it is not of a high quality or giving them something they can’t find value in.
In 2016, internet usage on a mobile device was greater than internet usage on a desktop for the first time. This trend has continued to grow into 2017, indicating the importance of making your digital marketing strategy one that is mobile friendly. Statistics show that your digital marketing strategy is most likely to be viewed on a mobile phone and if they are not compatible you are losing potential business and in turn, losing profit.