Archive for the 'General Interest' Category

Could Company Culture Transform Your Bottom Line?

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It’s the intangible factor that everyone feels. And it’s something which has the potential to make an impact on your profit margins. If things aren’t quite gelling within your growing start-up business, it could well be the missing ingredient. We’re talking company culture – something which can be hard to define, but that nevertheless is a fundamental part of the operation that you lead. Culture defines a company’s fit with it’s employees – it can help you to attract the best talent, even without the deepest pockets – and it can also help to reduce employee turnover, reducing the significant costs of recruitment. If you don’t have a positive working culture, then you’re simply storing up problems for the future. In fact, a recent Deloitte survey found that 88 per cent of employees rated a business’ culture as an important factor in its success. So it’s hard to argue otherwise than that defining and distilling that culture should be fairly high on your list of priorities.

Giving Recruitment A Boost

When it comes time to make a few new hires, you have all your tools in place – from psychometric testing to a personal reference checker, but you also need to make sure you can articulate and sell culture to prospective employees. It’s one of your greatest competitive advantages on the corporates, especially on a lean start-up budget. Generating a reputation as a dynamic and companionable place to work will go far, especially in the social media age when past and future employees are easily connected.

Keep Employees Loyal

When the cost of recruitment and training is a significant hit to your business, any steps you can take to reduce turnover should be considered. Here’s where fostering a positive work culture can be a huge benefit your business bank balance. Involve your staff in creating the company culture- the way to know what makes them feel like they’ve been treated well is to ask them.

Fostering Collaboration

Whether you use agile working methodology or not, you want to create an environment where collaboration is naturally occurring. Social interaction, communication and teamwork go hand in hand when you have a great working culture, and from that you can get some amazing results

Reducing Workplace Stress

Workplace stress is quite literally a killer and can cost your company big – from loss of productivity when someone is distracted to having people actually signed off sick who are still claiming pay and whose positions need to be backfilled. Reducing employee stress makes economic sense – and it’s easy to do if you have a positive, collaborative environment where occasional failure is embraced as part of the learning process and people are trusted and trusting and have open channels of communication. There are many small practical steps to take in this direction, but leading by example is a great place to start. You can also look at instigating employee perks to increase morale – these tend to find the greatest success when they are tailored to the individual and their preferences. It’s a little bit trial and error, but if you start with good intentions and you ask for feedback, you can’t go too far wrong.

Is Your Business Prepared For The Remote Work Revolution?

Remote working is a very popular trend in business right now and more companies are adopting the practise because there are a lot of benefits. The majority of people find that they work more productively when they can set their own schedules because everybody has their own way of working. Studies show that the 9 to 5 day doesn’t work for a lot of people and it’s far better to let them work the hours that they choose. Remote workers also have lower levels of stress, which is a huge benefit because people do not work productively when they are under a lot of stress. Remote working is also beneficial for employers because you don’t need as much office space, so you can cut your overheads significantly. However, using remote workers is very different from your traditional business model and if you don’t prepare properly, you won’t see the benefits. If you are considering using remote workers in your business, these are the preparations that you need to make. à

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Cloud Computing

Making sure that all of your employees have access to the information and documents that they need to do their job is so important if you want them to work productively. You need to make sure that they have the same access that they would if they were in the office, so you need a good cloud computing and file sharing system in place. There are potential security issues when storing sensitive information in the cloud, so it’s best to get managed IT services to implement and manage your cloud system for you. That way, you can be sure that everything is working smoothly and you don’t have any data breaches.

Project Management Software

Managing a project that a lot of employees are working on is always tough, but when they’re all working remotely, things can be very difficult. Trying to manage everybody’s schedule and make sure that everybody is going to deliver on schedule is hard, which is why you should invest in project management software. It will help you to track everybody’s progress, raise and discuss any potential issues, and ensure that all deadlines are met. Without the right project management software in place, your remote workers will have a lot of difficulty when collaborating on projects.

Communication Tools

Communication is one of the biggest hurdles that you have to face when implementing remote workers. It’s important that you keep track of your employees and check in with them from time to time to make sure that everything is ok. Communication is also vital when employees are working on projects together. But maintaining good communication is so much harder when everybody is working from home, so you need to invest in the right communication tools. Live chat services are a great tool for remote workers if they have quick questions that they need an immediate answer for. It’s easy for emails to pile up and important messages can get lost, so a live chat system is always a good idea. You should also get some good video calling software for conference calling. The right communication tools are important, but there is no substitute for meeting face to face, so you should try to host regular meetings in the office whenever you can. It’s important that you try to build a good working relationship between your employees and that’s a lot harder with remote workers, so you need to get people together as often as possible.

Security Concerns

Security is a big concern when you’re using remote workers because people are accessing company data on their own personal computers. It’s important that you make sure that those devices are secure before you allow your employees to access any company documents on them. You need to have a strict policy in place for employees that are using their own devices and make sure that your IT team have checked all devices to make sure that they have the right cyber-security software in place.

Outsourcing

If you are moving toward remote working and scaling back on your office space, you should look into the possibility of outsourcing some areas. If you are cutting back on some departments and you only have one or two people left in the office, you should consider outsourcing the rest of the jobs there and reducing your office space further. You just need to think carefully about it and make sure that outsourcing is the right decision for you.

As long as you make these preparations, your business should be ready for the remote work revolution and all of the benefits that go along with it.

Common Business Frustrations And Why They Aren’t That Bad

Owning a business can come with many frustrations, Whether it’s running out of coffee at the most inappropriate time, or an important piece of paper going missing, it’s not the easiest thing to navigate in life. If you have staff and other colleagues in the same building as you, this adds an extra element of uncertainty. However, there are many ways to overcome these frustrations and be grateful for what we have. It’s all about mindset and how you approach a situation can really affect the outcome.

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IT

If your business isn’t necessarily IT-based or online service, then IT and computer-based situations may not be your forte, this is absolutely fine as everyone has skill sets in different areas. However, to run a business in 2019, you will, of course, need to use technology, social media, websites, and mobile telecommunications. The easiest way to overcome the frustration that modern technology can bring is to get help with any problems that arise sooner rather than later, Such as hiring an IT specialist like Athens Micro.

Of course, it’s amazing that we can log on, speak to our customers directly via social media while sat on our sofa on our mobile phones, but when it doesn’t work smoothly this can cause many frustrations. Plan ahead, find your IT specialist and be confident. Technology is a fantastic tool that will bring many benefits to your business, and if managed correctly, it will help your business thrive.

Taxes

There is no avoiding this necessary frustration, and lots of people complain about having to file their taxes year in and year out, but there is no need to become frustrated about your taxes. They obviously need to be paid, of course. But if you find the right accountancy firm and keep organised, you’ll definitely feel less frustration at the end of the financial year looms. If you don’t have up-to-date records, already this is the first thing you need to add to your to-do list. Once this is done, keep it up-to-date send it to your accountant and relax. The fact that you’re earning enough to pay your taxes is a sign that your business is doing great, so be proud of your achievements.

Marketing

You may hear many small business owners express different frustrations about marketing, and finding their customers. But this is as simple as working out who your ideal customer is, discovering where their attention is online and in real life, and making sure that your services or products are in front of them as often as possible. If you have a fantastic product or service, then you can’t lose. It’s also important to remember that you can’t know everything about everything when setting up a business, it’s not the end of the world if you have gaps in your knowledge. What’s important is that you recognise this and that you find the information you need, and ask for help if required. When it comes to marketing, there is a wealth of information online, however, hiring a marketing consultant is probably one of the best investments you can make.

So remember what your business is all about, focus on the good stuff and try not to get frustrated about things you can’t control. Just concentrate on being positive and take help if you can!

The Major Causes Of Business Downtime (And How To Avoid Them)

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Business downtime: Two words that could strike fear into the heart of every business owner.

When downtime occurs, perhaps because of the reasons we will list here, there will be financial consequences when business is halted.  A disaster recovery plan needs to be put in place; statements of action that will ensure work can continue, despite the element of disruption that has taken place.

Consider the following causes of business downtime then, and using some of the information provided here, https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-to-write-a-disaster-recovery-plan, start to put something together to reduce the chances of harm that downtime could do to your business.

Here are two of the major causes of business downtime.

#1: Problems with your IT systems

There could be a malfunction within your computer system. A power outage could shut down your servers. A cyber attack could create insurmountable issues. Problems could occur because of human error. Whatever the case, if your business is unable to function because of problems with your IT, then you might suffer the consequences.

Tip: Our first piece of advice is this. Partner with an IT company who will both rescue you from downtime should a problem occur, and who will also give you guidance on preemptive measures to reduce the chances of a problem happening in the first place. Check this example https://www.frontlineinc.com/it-support-services/managed-it-services/ for more.

Secondly, consider the various IT issues that could occur and research them. So, you might Google the latest cyber threats, for example, and you might look for ways to back up your business data in the event of an IT failure. After your research, take the necessary steps to protect your business.

#2: Staffing issues

If your business is reliant on the people you employ, then your business might suffer downtime if they are away from work, for whatever reason. While you should only have one or two people away at a time, operations might still have to cease if their job roles are vital for the running of your business.

Tip: Consider why your staff members will be away from work. It might be due to sickness, for example, or they might be away on vacation. You need to plan for such instances, perhaps by having a temping agency on speed dial should you need to fill any vacant job roles quickly. You might also consider outsourcing, as there should be firms online or within your locale that can manage those tasks that are fulfilled by your employees. Read here for more on this solution; https://www.exponentialprograms.com/business/blog/outsourcing-is-it-the-best-option-for-your-business/.

You should also take steps to reduce staff losses. So, to avoid staff illnesses, research ways to improve the health of your employees, perhaps be making the relevant changes in your workplace. And for employee holidays, you should schedule them in advance, perhaps by using staff scheduling software, https://fitsmallbusiness.com/employee-scheduling-software/, to ensure you never experience a major shortfall of staff. Consider other reasons, and then take the necessary steps to preempt them.

Finally…

Many businesses suffers from downtime at some point, partly because of the reasons we have given here, but it can be avoided. Follow our advice in this article to ensure your business keeps going, and research other causes of downtime so you can factor them into a disaster recovery plan.

Breaking The Company Chains: Looking After Our Business By Looking After Our Employees

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Why are there so many ways to look after our business in a fundamental sense, by straddling the legalities and so forth, we’ve got to figure out how to look after one of the key components of our company. The people that work for us aren’t just worker bees or people to add to the workforce statistics, but these people that drive our company into the upper echelons. And this is something that we can underestimate in so many different ways. With this in mind, what can we do to ensure that we look after the people who make our business what it is?

Be careful where you outsource

Outsourcing is something that, to an extent, we can get trigger happy about. We feel there’s one part of a business that could do with a little bit of improvement; we outsource it! But be careful how you do this. There are essential components that you should outsource, especially if you don’t have the skills in house, like cybersecurity, as evidenced by https://www.cimasg.com/solutions/cybersecurity/, but if you do too much, your employees may feel threatened. We want to keep morale high, and this means that when you do outsource, we have got to see that it’s good for the business, but also ensure that our employees aren’t looking to jump ship. We can feel that, by outsourcing, our business is slowly being chipped away and sold off piece by piece. This is not going to do anything for the morale of your employees.

Understanding that our employees are human beings

They are not worker bees, not statistics, they are people who have problems, and we have to be savvy in the modern workplace. The way it used to be, you would sit down, get on with it. But now, we’ve got to operate in a more holistic approach. Looking after our business better isn’t just about ensuring that productivity is increased, and targets are met, it’s about making sure that our workers are happy. Wellbeing is crucial. And we need to create a wellbeing strategy because this is what will drive better business. And on https://www.hrzone.com/perform/people/ there are stages to creating this wellbeing strategy. Sometimes there is a reason employees don’t hit their targets, and it’s due to pressures inside and outside of work. Unfortunately, we can get blindsided by the facts and figures, and this is all we think we need. But look at the sacrifice that our employees have made to get you those results. It could very well result in burnout.

Know your limitations

Looking after your employees is about looking after yourself as well. You might think that everything drives the business and that you can’t get off the treadmill. This will result in you burning out sooner. Understand that, as humans, we’ve all got limits, and that we need to aim for the stars, but also realize when we have to back off. Once you set more realistic expectations, you couldn’t pinpoint areas of weakness, and your employees will see this is more of a human trait.

You Can’t Do It All Yourself – Here’s What And Who You’ll Need To Reach The Top

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Any aspiring businessperson knows full well that, if they want to reach any sort of success, they need to work hard and focus intently on every single area. A business isn’t just a little fun project with a big reward at the end of it; it takes a lot of concentration and commitment. Any aspiring entrepreneur worth their salt also knows that, if they tried to do it all, they’d be well and truly out of their depth. It doesn’t matter how big you think, how smart you are, or how talented you are; nothing will be achieved without a few extra hands.

There are so many aspects that go into a business that, if you tried to fit it all into your brain, you’d probably go a little loopy. Elon Musk is widely known as being a very smart individual that works super hard, but do you honestly think he doesn’t delegate a lot of the difficult stuff to people more knowledgeable than him? Don’t be naïve. He’s smart enough to know what’s worth his time and what should be prioritised.

The ins and outs can be a little confusing for even the most experienced in the game, so hiring

actual dedicated experts to come in and take the weight off for a while is absolutely the right call. Here are the types of assistance you’ll need if you want to continually rise in the ranks.

A Lawyer Or Two

In this game, you never know what kind of malicious legal issues may sucker punch you. You could be plodding through work one day, and be informed that you’ve gotten yourself into a little trouble – with a clue of what you did (or didn’t do). Bringing in a lawyer to run through things when you startup could save you a lot of trouble and stress in the future. Hiring extras for things like intellectual property, finances, or labor might also smooth things over for the future.

IT Services

What goes on in terms of your computers and the data on them can be a little confusing at times. If you have a skilled IT group with you, then you might be good to go on that front, but if you don’t then might need to speak with a firm or two that provides IT Solutions for business. Whether you need guidance overall, an attractive website, or online protection, these guys will be able to get it to you. You can then focus on what you’re good at.

Accountant

Balancing the books and following all of the correct procedures might be quite straightforward when you’re just starting up, but when you begin to grow, it might get a little trickier. Spending hours looking at the numbers all day might be a stressful way to spend it! Hiring an accountant or setting up a department that deals with that stuff is probably the right call.

Security

Your business is going to need protection at all times. We talked about online protection from IT services, but now we mean actual, physical security. Having guards, cameras, alarms, and extra fencing outside your premise would deter the majority of issues in this regard. They might cost a little, but they’d be worth it.

The Benefits Of Automating Business Processes

 

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One of the hardest things about running your own business is staying on top of all of the day-to-day jobs you have to do. Whilst you may have to do these things for your business to survive, finding a way to simplify them is important.

A great way to simplify things, of course, is to automate the processes that you do on a regular basis. This means finding all of the tasks that you repeat day in and day out, organising them into smaller automated processes. Whilst it may seem difficult at first, it’s the best way to stay on top of all of your day-to-day jobs. With that in mind, here are a number of benefits to automating the key processes in your business:

  • It Allows You To Work On Other Areas Of Your Business

Although you may not realise you, you probably spend a lot of time working small day-to-day tasks. Whilst they are vital to the running of your business, automating these processes is the best way to free up your time for more important aspects of your business. Whether that means you focus on business development or you work on building relationships with your clients, all of this will be possible thanks to the automation of just one or two of your key business processes. For more information when it comes to automating the processes in your business, you can visit this site here.

  • It Stops Repeat Processes

Another great reason to automate some of your business processes is that will stop you from repeating the same things over and over again. Whether it’s replying to the same questions on Facebook or sending the same welcome email to new subscribers, you want to ensure you’re not repeating things time after time. Not only is it a waste of time but it is also unsatisfying and tedious.

  • It Can Be Incredibly Affordable

One of the main reasons people don’t invest in automation software is because they think it is going to be really expensive. Although this can be the case for some tools, you can also find much more affordable versions available. Whether you’re looking for call center solutions or you want to create canned email responses, you may be surprised at how affordable it can be.

  • It Leaves Less Room For Errors

If you find that working through the same processes day in and day out means you end up making a lot of unnecessary mistakes, automation might be a great route to take. Although it will take some time to get everything set up properly, you can be sure that you processes are going to be running in the background with minimal chance of error. For guidance when it comes to reducing errors within your business, you can visit this site here.

  • It Will Help Your Business Run More Efficiently

Finally, automation is a great way to make sure your business is running efficiently. Whether you’re working on other projects or you’re taking some time out, you can be sure that your business can run without you.

Are you considering automating the processes in your business? What benefits could it bring to you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

3 Reasons Why It’s Essential That You Learn to Work Smart

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If you are an entrepreneur, you’re probably well aware of the idea that it’s important to “work hard” in the pursuit of your goals, in order to actually make headway and turn your dreams into reality.

But “hard work” by itself, while certainly being necessary at times,  is rarely – if ever – enough to actually ensure that you succeed in a business venture, or in many other domains of your life, for that matter.

Working “smart” is extremely important, and more and more people are becoming aware of this reality in the contemporary business world. Here are just a few reasons why it’s essential that you learn to work smart, instead of just focusing on working hard.

Because many people work as hard as you can imagine, and end up with virtually nothing to show for it

Do you think that you work harder than a Third World coal miner? Likely not – but it’s almost a certainty that you make far more money than that coal miner would, and enjoy a significantly higher quality of life.

There are many people in the world who work as hard as you can imagine, and nonetheless end up with virtually nothing to show for it. Clearly, “hard work” in and of itself isn’t a magic formula that leads inevitably to success and prosperity.

Among other things, hard work has to be applied in an area where it can bear proper fruit. The right context needs to be present, the right skill sets need to be leveraged, and more.

While the example given above is dramatic, it’s certainly possible for an entrepreneur to work themselves to the point of death while nonetheless ending up with very little to show for it. In these cases, it’s other factors that make all the difference.

Because it’s very unlikely that what differentiates you from your competition will be “hard work”

In most industries today, competition is fierce, and you can more or less rest assured that “hard work” is not much of a distinguishing feature between many of the most dominant companies out there.

The “secret” is that, at a high level, everyone is likely to be working hard. “Hard work” is better seen as a baseline than a distinguishing factor.

In other words, if you manage to edge your way past the competition, it will likely be because of strategy, innovation, and other factors. It almost certainly won’t be because you were working harder than them.

Because time is one of your most vital assets, and more effective tools and strategies can make yours go infinitely further

Time is one of our most valuable assets – in life, and in business alike. No matter how brilliant your plans may be, if you lack the time to properly execute them – or if your time management is poor in general – nothing is likely to come of it.

Techniques for “working smart” frequently work wonders for our time management, by allowing us to get more done, more quickly than ever before.

By comparison, people who are “working hard,” but who aren’t exercising good time management, may simply be unable to compete effectively. As an explanatory metaphor, just consider the difference between someone using a piece of equipment such as a Steamaster steam cleaner to remove dirt from a carpet, versus someone trying to do it by hand with a bucket and a sponge.

Organizing Your Office’s Workload

One of the many jobs that you are going to always have as manager of your office is organizing the workload. You need to make sure that you approach this in the best way possible if you are to enjoy the benefits, as it is something that can really make a huge difference to your business’ future success. The better the workload has been organized, the more organized all the individual processes within the office are too, which is obviously going to mean that you can expect people to be able to manage their jobs much better. In this article, we are going to look at some of the ways in which you can hope to organize your office’s workload much more effectively.

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Get Help With Software

The main point about organizing workload is that you need to ensure you are scheduling everyone’s time accordingly. Only by marrying these two things up can you be sure that the work will get done, and that your people will neither be too overworked, nor have too much free time. Scheduling your staff is a tricky concept to master, but you can make it a lot easier by simply ensuring that you use appropriate software to manage it better. If you look, you will see that there are many examples of crew scheduler software which you can consider using, and as long as you find one which works well for your purposes, this will help hugely in keeping your workload managed as well as you would hope.

Know When To Delegate

You will have heard people say that a good manager knows when to delegate work to those below them. This is definitely true, and if you want to make sure that you are properly organizing your office’s workload then a large part of that is going to mean knowing when to delegate your own work. You should be careful to only delegate to people you trust, but that doesn’t mean never taking a chance on someone who is keen. You might also want to think about what kind of work you are aiming to delegate most of all, which might be that which is not too sensitive to the business or not high-risk. By delegating, you free up your own time – which can then be spent in organizing everything much better.

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Identify Similar & Duplicate Tasks

In most workplaces, the nature of the work will mean that there are often similar tasks which are happening at any one time. Because of that, you need to make sure that they are being dealt with by the best people, and if that means arranging things entirely differently then so be it. You should also keep an eye out for duplicate tasks, as these are likely to be wasting time. Make sure you either separate them out into what they should really be doing, or that you get rid of those which are not necessary at all. That will free up time for everybody, which will make everything so much easier.

Office Talk: Why Is Teamwork Always A Battle?

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Teamwork is a core principle of a successful business. Without it, there is no cohesion, and the processes fall flat very quickly. The unfortunate thing is teamwork often fails, and it’s up to the boss to find a solution. As a leader, you need to prove to your staff why it’s essential for them to take one for the team.

To do it, it’s vital that you understand the reasons why teamwork isn’t a walk in the park. Only then can you start troubleshooting from the hip. Here are the basics to keep in mind.

No Leadership

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the lack of unity in the workplace might be your fault. A leader that isn’t able to bring everyone together is a liability, and it might be time to take a long look in the mirror. If you don’t set expectations and clear goals, the office won’t get the scale of the task, and you’ll have a workplace full of individuals. Of course, no one will understand that they are supposed to work as a team if you don’t communicate it correctly. Before you start pointing the finger at others, you should analyse whether you’re setting the right example.

Disruptive People

People don’t work well together because some of them are drama queens. One tiny thing goes wrong, and they throw their toys out of the pram. It’s like working with a baby, and nobody is going to team up with a child. Even if they did, their immaturity would torpedo the partnership within minutes. Give them a chance to reform themselves, yet don’t offer them countless opportunities. If they prove they can’t be trusted, separate them from the group and look to move them on ASAP.

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Politics

Teamwork is hard to cultivate because of office politics. If it happens in a disciplined organisation such as the Armed Forces, it’s going to rear its head in your office. How does the army deal with the pog military versus the grunts? The answer is easy: it makes everyone get their hands dirty. By making all of your employees participate in the menial tasks, no one will feel marginalised. Sure, they’ll hate it, but you need to teach them it’s for the greater good. Also, team bonding exercises can be effective. Taking time to get to know one another is a useful way to see someone as they are instead of the image they project.

Dual Credit

A business is a competitive environment where people are looking to stand out from the crowd. Those that know they won’t get the credit they deserve won’t team up with anyone. Why should they when their rival receives a pat on the back? A quick and easy fix is to hand out credit to everyone involved in the process. Then, co-workers know their contribution will get recognised and they won’t be as loathe working together.

Teamwork goes against human nature, which is why you must work hard to change your employees’ habits.