Business Success

How to Become More Productive

Many extremely organised people cannot understand how disorganised people can actually manage to get any work done in a cluttered office. De-cluttering can increase productivity and efficiency as well as creating a calmer and more pleasant environment in your home office. When you clear the clutter and take control of your life you will be more productive – trust me.

Declutter Your Home Office and Become More Productive

When working from home, different people work in very different ways – some like to be extremely organised, with a filing place for everything and everything filed in its place. Others like to be surrounded by piles of work – maybe they think it makes them look busier when their partner arrives home from the daily commute. But more likely they work in a “mind-mapping” way with lots of connected pieces of information set out across their desk or even around the whole room.

The extremely organised types cannot understand how the seemingly disorganised types can actually manage to get anything done – and yet they do manage to, and often in a more creative way.

But if you are the “disorganised” type (or perhaps a better description is that you work in organised confusion) there will always be times when you lose that vital piece of paper: the important invoice, or contact details or just a scrap of paper where you noted down that brilliant new idea. That’s the point when you might start to think there is some benefit to being more organised and consider decluttering your home office. Clearing space in your office can help create a less stressful environment that will lead to a more organised, clutter-free mind.

In order to embark on the arduous task of de-cluttering we need to feel motivated that a clutter-free office will be worth all the effort. If you cannot appreciate the advantages of de-cluttering then you will never do it. We also need to understand that de-cluttering is absolutely not about throwing away items that you actually need but it is about knowing the difference between the things you need and the clutter.

So avoid the excuses, aim for a less stressful working environment and just get started de-cluttering your home office – here are 7 top tips to help you:

  1. Categorise the paperwork and other items you need to store, for example: bank statements, invoices, receipts, insurance documents etc. Write all the categories down on a list – this will help you to get an overview of what you think you need and what you actually need. This list may not be complete at this stage but will give you a good starting point.
  2. Check the legal requirements for the retention of paperwork for tax or regulatory reasons. There is no point filing 10 years of bank statements and invoices if the Inland Revenue only require you to store information for the past 5 years. Add this information to your list of categories.
  3. Organise your filing cabinet(s) – as the experts at a technical SEO company have told me, if you have more than one filing cabinet then take one at a time and remove all the folders. Check their labels (if they have any) and match these labels to your list of categories. Make sure the title is exactly the same to avoid confusion and mis-filing later on.
  4. Organise your files – many people prefer to file their paperwork in ring-binder files that can be stored on a shelf and sub-divided more easily. Paperwork that is more frequently accessed is better stored this way. Make sure you have plenty of clear plastic pockets and dividers to organise the paperwork.
  5. Buy a stationery cupboard – so that all your office supplies such as printer paper, printer inks, envelopes, pens etc can be neatly stored in one place instead of on your desk. It will be much easier to find what you need and you will know when you are running out of something.
  6. Buy more storage – you can never have too much storage space so buy as many additional storage units, filing cabinets or shelves as you can reasonably fit in your home office. Having plenty of storage will make it easier to be organised.
  7. Consider renting a self-storage unit –  so rent cheap self storage unit to help you achieve this. It is simple to arrange and available in or near most major towns and is particularly useful for old documentation that you won’t have to access frequently. A storage unit at a self storage facility will help keep your home office de-cluttered when there simply is not space to store everything at home.
small business failure rate

People Management Skills for the Small Business Owner

As a small business owner, you can feel like there is a lot that you need to learn. It’s never-ending! However, while there are a lot of different technical and financial elements associated with running a business, you also need to master your people skills too. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the best people management skills for small business owners. 

Integrity

There is only one place to begin, and this is with integrity. Being a person of integrity is important because it is the only way that your employees are going to trust you. If you are honest, ethical, and transparent, this really can make a massive difference to the performance of your workforce. It can be tempting to take the unethical shortcut when you face so many challenges per day, but it is important to avoid temptation. Even one slip could lead you to lose the trust of your staff.

Connectivity 

A good manager is someone who coaches and develops their workforce. Yes, delegating tasks is part of your job role, and being able to do this effectively is important. Assigning the right tasks to the right people can make a massive difference. However, you should not simply assign tasks and then leave people to it. Being a good coach and a mentor can make a massive difference when it comes to the success of your business. Opportunities to train, learn, and develop are what workers crave. You will find that a lot of people leave jobs whereby they feel like they are in a dead-end role and there is no opportunity to progress their learning. 

Empathy

Aside from the people management skills that we have mentioned so far, having empathy is important. It is vital that you can appreciate and understand how others feel. Empathy helps to generate trust. If your employees feel like they are genuinely seen and understood, they are going to be much more likely to trust you to make the correct decisions. In addition, you will be able to get the most potential from your employees if you are able to show empathy. When managers display that they care by showing their appreciation, employees will reciprocate this appreciation by putting more effort in.

Predictability 

Last but not least, another good skill to have is predictability. You may think that being predictable is boring, and this can be the case in some walks of life. But in business, it is a great quality to have. After all, employees prefer it when they know what to expect from their boss. It makes them feel comfortable in the working environment, and when this is the case, workers feel more confident when it comes to sharing their thoughts and ideas. They don’t feel like there is ambiguity regarding what they can and cannot do either, and this gives people the freedom they need to excel. 

Now, hopefully, you have a good idea some of the people management skills that you need to master as a small business owner. Do not underestimate the importance of having good people skills when it comes to the success of your business. 

business success via mentoring

Small Business Success – NO MORE EXCUSES!

Small Business Success – NO MORE EXCUSES!

As a digital marketing coach I have heard every possible excuse as to why people can’t start a small business or can’t improve the profitability of a small business.   With the power of internet marketing building a profitable business has never been easier!  Attraction marketing has completely revolutionized this industry and people still find excuses on why they can’t be successful in their industry.

One of the most common excuses that I hear is, “I don’t have the skills or knowledge to start a blog.”  If you know anything about online marketing it is critical to have a blog for you business.  Your blog is the engine that runs your marketing car and without a blog it will be very challenging to attract targeted leads to your small business.

Online Marketing Just Got Easier!

When someone drops the “I don’t have the skills or knowledge to start a blog” excuse on me I quickly respond with, “GREAT!  You don’t need to know how!”  The first thing I do is tell them about WordPress and show them some of the great blogs already online that don’t necessarily have great writers but do have an understanding of what interests online readers and that is everything and more that a newbie marketer needs to get started in the right direction.

Within minutes of setting up a WordPress blog you can be reaching people – and that is incredibly powerful.  There are currently millions of people using this platform to blog.  This is powerful because you can blog using specific keywords and these keywords will rank much, much faster than if you were trying to rank them with a blog on any other platform.

In addition to getting a complete blogging system you also get a website that can use a range of free themes to get a layout and design that suits your topics. 

A Blog Supplements Your Primary Business

You should not look at the blog as your primary business.  This blogging platform should be used to build your value and to position you as a leader in your industry. 

It is awesome having a resource such as WordPress available for the people that are really self-motivated and want to start blogging.  Again, there ARE NO MORE EXCUSES as to why you cannot blog daily and build an online business. 

Mark my words….if you start blogging seriously by the end of a year your business will be making serious amounts of money.

Getting more value from Salesforce

Are you still using Salesforce as just a contact manager and tracker instead of wholly a part of the sales process? Salesforce is an immensely powerful customer relationship management ecosystem that can completely revolutionise customer handling across your entire organisation leading to a more consistent customer experience and greater customer satisfaction. But it can’t do that unless you unlock its potential by populating it with data about your customers.

Get Trained

Probably the number one reason you aren’t using Salesforce as effectively as you could, is that you don’t know what it’s capable of. So instead of wasting money on features you don’t know existed and couldn’t use if you did get yourself some sales management training.

Connect, Integrate and Automate

Like keyword research for SEO, Salesforce gives back as much as you put into it. So, to maximise the value gained from your investment in the technology you need to start using it as the default application for any task. Many of the tasks that sales departments need to do on a daily basis are natively supported by Salesforce or you can directly link the application you need. No more copying and pasting customer data from database to email or cross-referencing to create a quotation. All that can be automated through Salesforce reducing the time spent creating sales documents and minimising the introduction of errors.

Customise the Interface…

Salesforce is extremely flexible and allows you to customise it to suit your particular business. Hide away the parts that don’t interest you and bring to the front the parts that are important. Salesforce users make the most of it when they can understand what it’s telling them so don’t be afraid to tailor the experience!

…And Expand Your Horizons

We mentioned above that Salesforce is a CRM ecosystem. There is a wealth of apps that plug into Salesforce and extend its capabilities even further. From Survey Monkey to SCOTSMAN tools there’s an app that can help you make the most of Salesforce.

Take It with You

In an increasingly connected world there is still a place for the sales visit to reassure prospective clients that you care about them and to demonstrate your product. Keep your Salesforce CRM data to hand by installing the Salesforce1 mobile app. Record the results of the meeting instantly, before you can forget what happened or confuse them with the next client and make a decision on what to do next before heading back to base.

Rich Analytics

The huge advantage of a CRM over, say keeping your records in a filing cabinet, is that you can mine your customer data to reveal interesting insights about how your customers are responding to you. Salesforce users who successfully harness this power can tailor their sales operations to focus on the most profitable areas where sales are most likely to come from. By reading and responding to the analytics you can increase customer satisfaction, improve customer loyalty and reduce time spent per sale on closing the deal. Doesn’t that sound like good value to you?

Getting more value from Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Unlike employing an SEO consultant, the decision to implement a CRM is not one to be taken lightly and even a small implementation of Microsoft Dynamics can be a considerable chunk of your annual IT budget.

Which is why it is important to be using it to the fullest extent. A CRM that is used as a glorified customer database is an extremely expensive white elephant but a CRM deployed across the whole company could increase productivity, decrease errors and improve customer satisfaction.

But how do you go about getting the most from Microsoft?

Get Up to Speed

Microsoft Dynamics is immensely powerful but that means you can’t expect to learn it by trial and error. It is essential that everyone in the sales process using the system is provided with sales training, both on the actual mechanics of “How do I do that?” and on the underlying methodology of “Why are we doing that?”

Tailor it to your needs

The only right way to run a business is the one that keeps the business alive. Whilst there are reams and reams of books and blogs telling you how to run your company you will no doubt have settled on a combination of techniques that you and your staff are happy with.

Which is why Microsoft Dynamics allows you to expand its capabilities by adding on apps. Do you use SCOTSMAN commitment measuring techniques? There’s an app for that . Do you use Social Media? Get the app to manage your social marketing. Need to monitor MailChimp? Guess what – there’s an app for that too.

Just like you’d be wasting your money buying an iPhone and only using it for phone calls you get the most out of Microsoft Dynamics when you add on apps to extend what it can offer.

Automate your sales pipeline

Microsoft Dynamics, naturally, integrates with Office so you can automate the creation of documents without needing to leave the CRM. This has two major benefits: firstly, you can keep all your interactions with a particular client together so you can see at a glance what stage of the sales cycle you’ve reached; and secondly, you minimise errors caused by transferring data from one system to another. This reduces the amount of time your sales people are spending on admin tasks whist improving the customer experience by speeding up responses and reducing errors.

Use mobile apps

Microsoft Dynamics has a mobile interface meaning your employees can access the CRM data wherever they are. Site visits – both sales and aftersales – can be logged immediately before the rep has a chance to forget what occurred and without the possibility of errors caused during transcription of paper records. It also allows them to be familiar with all interactions between the customer and your company – even if the customer rang in with an issue after your rep left the office. Attention to detail on this scale improves the customer experience which leads to greater customer satisfaction and better customer retention.

small business failure rate

SURPRISE! 95% Failure Rate – Small Businesses

What shouldn’t be a surprise is that the number of small businesses are currently seeing hyper-growth!  There are millions of people out of work that are trying to figure out what their “plan B” is and that often means starting a small business.

Unfortunately, if 1,000,000 people start a business such as a technical SEO firm, this year only 50,000 will come out victorious.  There are several factors for these numbers but I think the biggest is the lack of knowledge and training, and an awareness of the best ways of improving the profitability of your small business.

“Old School” Vs “New School”

Old School

I started my first business over 10 years ago at the age of 21. I had a good idea – I asked all the people I knw what they thought of the idea and they also thought it would work. Many of my good friends and all of my family were encouraging about my business idea because they wanted to make me feel good about myself. But they weren’t giving me honest feedback – perhaps not surprising really.

But I thought it was a good idea, I was encouraged to think that by friends and family and when it didn’t work I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Surely everyone needed this unique product/service – I bet many of you have been there yourselves – not understanding why you’re not selling such a great product/service.

New School

As I’m sure you have probably figured out I was not very successful at building my business using the old school approach.  I worked my butt off for 16 months, spent thousands of dollars on products and training materials and produced a total of (drum roll please)…..ZERO profit for my business.  Needless to say, I felt like a complete failure and I quit.   At the time, I never thought I would start another business again.

It was not until early 2011 that I finally realized that anyone can be successful in business if they know how to market themselves using the internet.  The philosophy was fairly simple.  It is called Digital Marketing and the idea is to attract attention for your product or service from all over the web.

Needless to say, after applying this methodology and philosophy to my new business I started seeing tremendous results.  Currently, my business organization is close to surpassing 200 employees!  On top of that, I have increased my product offering so that I have spread my risk and have different income streams into my business.

Final Thoughts

If you are struggling to get your business off the ground you need to start applying online marketing methods to your business.  Learn the technique and grow your business using the power of the internet.  Yes, you still can build a business using the “old school” methods but why waste your time?  There are millions of people searching the web every single day for leaders in every industry.  Position yourself as a leader and start helping others all over the world with their businesses!

As more and more people start to realize that you can successfully build a business using the power of the internet you can bet that the 95% failure rate will continue to drop.

home-office-couple

Make Money At Home | Ten Options

Make Money At Home

As the Holidays begin to peek around the corner people are beginning to search for ways to make money at home for the up-and-coming gift giving season.  Not only that, the recession has hit people hard and I honestly believe that home based businesses are going to explode in the coming years as more and more people look for ways to make money at home.

Whether you choose to offer a decorating service or a grocery shopping service, advise people on how to declutter a home or, indeed remove the clutter in your truck – the options are endless.

Make Money At Home | Ten Options

10.  Grocery Shopping Service.  Put an add on Craigslist or in the paper that targets the elderly and busy moms.  Have people email their shopping list to you and you can do their shopping for them.  If you advertise in Craigslist you will not need to spend any money on marketing.

9.  Internet Tutor.  I personally do not know a single person who does not own a computer.  However, there are still millions of people that are completely clueless (my mother-in-law, for one) when it comes to operating their computer and using the internet.  Again, you can advertise on Craigslist for free.  Charge by the hour.

8.  Hauling Service.  If you have a truck you can advertise a Hauling Service on Craigslist.  Offer to haul away peoples junk, tree branches or trash and charge per load. With decluttering so popular as people seek to get more organised and create a less stressful life their are plenty of people who need someone to remove their clutter. (See this Ultimate Guide to Decluttering if you need some encouragement to declutter)

7.  Translation Service.  Are you fluent in another language?  Start a translation and transcription service or become a tutor. Another option is to tutor people in English where that is not their first language – especially foreign business people who have been posted to the US and want to improve their spoken English. Yet another option for those with a second language is to become a voice-over artist. Look for a specialist voice-over agency who can find you work and advise on the equipment you’ll need at home.

6.  Holiday Decorating Service.  You can decorate residences and businesses for the upcoming Holidays.  You could do both interior and exterior.  Charge by the hour.

5.  Live-in Carer Jobs. Help look after an elderly person who wants to remain in their own home instead of going into a residential care home and giving up their personal space and independence. According to the not-for-profit organisation the Live-in Care Hub (www.liveincarehub.co.uk) there is a massive demand for carers now more people know that live-in care is an alternative to a residential care home.

4.  Window Cleaning.  Charge by the window or by the size of the house.  You don’t want to charge hourly because you can clean a LOT of windows in one hour.

3.  Garden Care Service.  Mow, trim, weed lawns and include leaf removal during the Fall.  You could also include snow removal during the winter months.  You will need a good mower and trimmer to start with.  Investigate the competition to set your rates.

2.  Start An Online Business.  Join my blog by signing in with your name and email address on the home screen and I will provide you step-by-step instructions on how to start an online business.

1.  Blogging.  There is now a complete blogging and marketing system that you can use for $25/month.  The best part?  You can share with it others that want to blog and you get 100% affiliate commissions for everyone that uses your affiliate link to join.  $25/month in residual income for everyone that you share the blogging and marketing system with.   In my opinion, this is the best way to make money at home. Also, perforeming an SEO health check will help you.

 10 Ways To Make Money At Home – Conclusion

As you can see, by using some imagination you can easily come up with several ways to make money at home.  Making money at home is not as challenging as some think. Regardless of how you make money at home, new technologies such as this wireless credit card reader will help you take payments digitally.

I have started several successful businesses from my home and now I am thankful to be a full-time blogger and entrepreneur.

questions about business success

How to Achieve Business Success

It is no secret that the majority of those people who try to start their own business fail to achieve success. Running your own business is much more difficult than simply turning up each day to your corporate job  but the rewards can be much more lucrative once you find success. A lot of people have found success running a small business. If they can, there is no reason why you can’t achieve success as well. Below are the things that you need to increase your chances of finding profitability in your small business. If you have all these, there is nothing to stop you from achieving the success you have always been dreaming of.

5 Tips to Achieving Business Success

1. Patience. No genuine business is a make-money-fast scheme. Yes, you can earn money on the day you start your company but if you want to keep a steady income, you have to be very patient. Be patient with every aspect of your business. Be patient when generating leads. Be patient when doing social media marketing. Be patient when communicating with potential leads. This is where a lot of businesses make a wrong turn. They can’t wait long enough to see their efforts work. They have this notion that if you run a PPC ad today, you will get a hundred leads tomorrow. This is not how online marketing works. The truth is it can take weeks or even months before you get to see any leads trickle in. If you are not patient enough to wait for weeks or months, then starting your own business is probably not right for you.

2. Focus. You can never achieve business success if you don’t know how to focus. You should learn how to eliminate all the unnecessary distractions around you. Another big mistake that a lot of business owners are guilty of is that they keep on trying to do many things all at the same time. They have this wrong impression that the more things they do, the more money they can earn. They end up being caught up in too many activities. The sad part is these activities are getting wasted or aren’t getting any results. That said, you should only focus on activities that are getting results. The general rule is to focus on the most important matters and put aside everything else.

3. Mentors. You need a mentor especially if you are just starting out. They will show you the way and advice you on how to avoid the mistakes that newbie business owners usually make. You have to make sure though that the mentor has the experience to back up whatever lessons or tips he/she is going to teach you.

4. High quality products and services. If you have great products and services in your hands, you will be able to create a line of loyal customers over time. These people will keep on coming back to you because of the quality of your stuff. Make sure the tools you use are also high quality, such as a keyword research tool.

5.  You need to have a training and marketing system in place.  Do not try to do all of your marketing on your own or you will have a very difficult time getting found online. In my opinion, use the experts for the best online marketing.

Achieving Success with Internet Marketing

With the proper tools, resources and mentoring I honestly believe that anyone can achieve busines success with Internet Marketing.  The majority of individuals fail at ever achieving success because they constantly push their opportunity and product instead of offering value to those that are desperately asking for help.  If business owners quit worrying about themselves so much and started focusing on helping others they would be able to achieve success a lot faster.  Business  success is achievable as long as you have the attributes and things discussed above.

What Documents Should I Never Archive?

We all know the importance of archiving your documents and the benefits of doing so, but are there some instances where archiving shouldn’t happen?

Every day, your business generates information and data. It can be anything from petrol receipts to the information you collect when customers buy online. You have legal responsibilities to keep some of this data. However, many companies hang on to information “just in case”, a state that could lead to document archiving costing you far more money than it needs to even if you have chosen to use an offsite cheap storage unit rather than expensive office space to store the documents. It is increasingly common for small companies to make use of self storage rather than waste valuable office space for storage. The costs are generally low, especially with all the good self storage deals around but it may still be money that your business doesn’t have to spend if you are storing documents that you don’t need.

Knowing the law

In many ways knowing what you should not or don’t need to keep is fairly straightforward – you just need to be aware of what the law says in relation to your business sector and industry.

As a general guide, you should always keep documents, data and information relating to:

  1. Business documents – in other words, anything that establishes you right to conduct your business. This could be anything from articles of incorporation to business permits, licences, certifications etc.
  2. Financial data – this is the one that people worry about most and in many ways, it pays to keep detailed as well as accurate financial data and information. Check how long you need to hold on to financial information as part of your archiving documents
  3. Business agreements – this may be the policies and procedures that tie your company into contracts with clients, suppliers and so on. It will also include staff agreements, such as contracts and health benefit packages etc.
  4. Executive decisions – you will also have company minutes, along with annual reports, health and safety documents that relate to how your business is run. Ensuring you hold on to these is important.
  5. Compliance – there may also be documentation that relates to your company complying with specific legislation, regulations etc.

What documents you don’t need?

However, in spite of having these five points relating to documents you must keep, many businesses still hang on to information that they really don’t need. On one hand, you may think that you may need the information or document but on the other, it makes archiving documents a cumbersome and heavy process.

To help you understand whether you need the documents or not, ask yourself these four questions;

  1. Are the transactions or decisions that rely on this information been concluded?
  2. Have you met all the regulatory and statutory requirements for keeping this information, e.g. have you kept the information for X number of years?
  3. Is there a statutory or regulatory reason why you should hold on to the information longer than required?
  4. Are there litigations proceedings that will affect holding on to certain records or information?

Telling a story

Your business records essentially tell the story of your business, charting its rise from humble beginnings to the thriving business that it is today. Keeping documents safe is important, and not just for the regulatory or legal reasons. Backing up data is important too but a separate activity to document archiving.

If you are unsure what to keep, for how long etc., a professional document archiving service can help.