You’ve got all this amazing talent, ideas are firing, business is thriving, you wake up every day feeling really lucky to be doing what you do. But one day it all starts to go downhill. People are leaving, HR is in overdrive and unfamiliar faces are springing up left right and center as freelancers start filling in the gaps...
Entrepreneurs come in different shapes and sizes. Which type are you?
There’s an old saying attributed to Mark Twain: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” That’s certainly true of business. Time and again I’ve read that the most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who left school in their early teens and set up their own businesses.
Culture is recognised as the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a society. When it comes to business, it’s importance can carry even more weight. When we think about a business’ culture, we think of the values, behaviours and attributes of your people.
Inaccurate estimations can cause drawbacks in the process of important projects. An electrical contractor who ends up buying more materials than is truly needed, for example, might waste a lot of money. And, inversely, an electrical contractor who purchases less than the job requires might miss lower prices offered by wholesale arrangements, and waste time procuring all the necessary items for the completion of the project.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying many times. But what does it actually mean? How does it really help? Does it help at all?
According to the Wiktionary, to put oneself in someone’s shoes means ‘to try to look at a situation from a different point of view, as if one were the other person. To empathise’.
I had the opportunity recently to meet with Nicole Crump the owner of Tactix Marketing. We were both speaking at a seminar for a client in the sales technology field. I discovered that Nicole spends a good amount of time showing SME’s how to put together an effective marketing plan. So I invited her to share some ideas on how to do this.
I used to think that LinkedIn was just a networking tool to keep in touch with business contacts, associates, colleagues etc. But all of this changed recently, when I came across an entrepreneur called Alex Pirouz.
I’m excited to announce that Xero has brought two new financial institutions on board with direct bank feeds in Australia: Bendigo Bank and Rural Bank. Direct feeds are now available for all of their products.
If you want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in your business and help the environment, going carbon neutral in your business is a great way to do your part.
Unfortunately, payroll fraud is a reality for many businesses across Australia. The average payroll fraud amount has shot up thanks to some large instances, including the Clive Peeters case when a single employee stole 19 million and a Canberra Catholic Education case which saw a single employee rob the system of 1.2 million.
Whether you’re running a cafe, a landscaping business or you’re a virtual assistant, repeat customers and positive word of mouth are important to your business’s success. Here are some great ways to make sure your customers remember your business and recommend you to their friends.
Developing a brand for your business means giving it an ‘identity’ or personality.
Did you know that Free Trade Agreements (FTA) can be used by businesses large and small?
As FTAs come into force, you may find new opportunities to expand your business overseas. Or, you may find that overseas investors are interested in partnering in your business operations.
Make sure you understand how FTAs work and what help is available to you!
A business that aims to scale successfully for growth needs to be able to meet the versatile demands of handling their inventory effectively. As a business expands the level of complexity and challenges for its most critical operations increase, too. Relying on outdated and ineffective systems to manage burgeoning inventory demands will not only stunt growth but could also potentially drive the business towards failure.
As a tech-enthusiast I’ve tried just about every web app, mobile app and cloud-service available. I’ve downloaded phone apps, and deleted them, signed up to this, downloaded that, and joined the next social platform, however, I’m pretty scrupulous. I’ll dig in and see what it’s going to do for me and if it isn’t going to change my life for the better overnight, I’ll delete and repeat.
Before we consider the ways to optimise your website for local search, let's see what local search really is, and why it is important for your business: If you ever used the Google now feature on an Android phone, have you noticed how Google is able to return the results for places to eat around you, or popular shopping destinations in the vicinity? Similarly, have you ever wondered how Siri on the iPhone is able to tell you how many good Italian restaurants are in your neighbourhood? Another example is a set of listings you see on Google desktop search.
A process is a set of defined tasks required to complete a given business activity, including who is responsible for completing each step, when and how they do so, and how long it takes to complete.
If you think of the number of repeated tasks required throughout your day, refined processes can amount to huge benefits. Processes clearly define how things are done, then provide the focus for making them better. How they are done determines how successful the outcomes will be.
More than seventy percent of change projects or initiatives within an organisation fail – why? Typically organisations are not taking a consistent or holistic approach to change management, nor are they engaging their workforces effectively to do so. Whether it’s new initiatives, adopting technological improvements, shifting work methodologies from being compliance heavy to advisory based , or simply just wanting to stay ahead of the competition – these factors all drive ongoing changes to the way we work.
“The best things in life are free
But you can keep them for the birds and bees
Now give me money.”
The Beatles weren’t singing about employee motivation when they recorded Money (That’s What All I Want) in 1963. But it’s fair to say that money has always been seen as a key to workplace harmony.
Time Management is one of those skills many of us struggle with. As business owners, managers and leaders, you wear many hats. Now, hats are awesome. I love hats. I just returned from Peru with a hat that bears a striking resemblance to the one Indiana Jones wears … but that doesn’t mean I want to be juggling all my hats at the same time.
It seems as though everywhere you look nowadays you’ll see something related to ‘culture’ and the benefits of a good company culture and of course the disadvantages of a bad one.
So what is this ‘culture’ I speak of?
If you added up all the time people waste in bad meetings every day worldwide, the cost would probably equate to the annual GDP of a small country. Long unproductive and poorly run meetings cost both time and money.
If you don’t already work alongside Millennials, the chances are that you will soon. Allianz recently posted that are those born between 1980 and the early 2000s, the eldest Millennials are in the workplace now and by 2025 will make up 75 percent of the global workforce. While they’ve got the numbers in force, it’s easy to find negativity towards hiring Millennials, primarily due to their fickle nature when it comes to job-hopping. A greater understanding about what makes Millennials tick is an easy way to build a culture that’s likely to keep them engaged.
Running a business is a high stakes game, afterall it’s your livelihood… it’s you that has to pay the mortgage / rent and put food on the table. Getting invoices paid on time (or at all) is an ongoing challenge for many small businesses, especially in services where you’re often doing the work prior to getting paid.
Fortunately there’s a bunch of measures you can put in place to defend yourself from sharks, flakey customers and downright back luck. So we’ve put together a handy infographic that you can print out and keep nearby to remind you to stack the odds in your favour when it comes to getting paid. Enjoy!
Having well structured and timed invoices is essential to getting your invoices paid (and paid on time).
As a service business, you don’t usually need product photographs for a catalogue or online shop, but what you will need is a great photo of yourself. Images on your website help make you more approachable and real, and if you’re going to do anything online, you need a decent headshot to accompany your profile. From your website about page to your social media profiles and any article ever written about you by any publication, ever, you’re going to need a decent picture to use … and a selfie taken with your camera phone just isn’t going to cut it.
Whenever a new business starts, it tries to consolidate by focusing on its native region, a market it is familiar with. It is a natural instinct to make the most of one’s home advantage. But sooner or later a moment comes when we realize that there is a need to move out of one’s comfort zone and explore other territories in search of growth. While it is a delicate task and the specifics will vary from case to case, let us list out a few basic strategies that should help you get started.
Great opportunities to grow your business are actually all around you.
Technology is accelerating at lightning speed but its impact on small business, one of the world’s largest drivers of revenue and a huge contributor to every nation’s GDP, is rarely discussed.
Business owners have so many distractions that it’s easy to… where was I? Oh yes, to lose focus. But there’s a way you can keep yourself on track.
No doubt you started your business for a good reason. It might have been to get rich, to escape the rat race or to challenge yourself. It might have been to change the world for the better. It might have simply been to generate a regular income while being your own boss instead of having other people tell you what to do.
According to the Small Business Association, about half of all new small businesses survive five years. And only about 33 percent survive ten years or more. Having a solid plan in place to manage cash flow is essential to ensuring that your business can survive.
“Everything that can be invented has been invented,” said the Director of the US Patent Office in 1899. It was a breathtakingly naive thing to say even then. But many business owners today still make a similar mistake. They look at the market around them and assume it’s fixed. Having marked out their territory they believe nothing will change.
Cash flow is a hot topic for any small business. We caught up with the people over at Fundbox, who know a thing or two about the importance of having cash on hand. Anna Eschenburg offered to give us the rundown on how to get better at lead conversion.
You’re still likely to know someone who will tell you how much better things used to be before “technology”. This term covered anything from mobile phones to computers to fax machines to maybe even television sets. Whatever “it” was, it was to blame for making the modern world far too busy and far less human.
David Koch is best known as ‘Kochie from Sunrise’, co-host of an Australian television breakfast program. But he also runs a small business, a boutique media production agency called Pinstripe Media. It’s a family business that’s been up and running for well over a decade. In fact, David and his family started the business around the same time he was hired to work on Sunrise.
It’s no secret that providing employee perks to your staff is a key way to keep motivation and happiness levels high, and to increase productivity across the business. However, for many small to medium size businesses, it can be difficult to compete on a level playing field with large companies. Big corporate players have access to the funds to spend on developing programs at a much higher scale than SMBs can afford.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has been unusually proactive in pursuing underpayment claims in the courts recently. This may have been prompted by several widely reported cases of large supermarket chains mistreating and underpaying their staff. Regardless, this impacts small to medium size employers who may have genuinely underpaid staff due to naivety or a human error and who are now prescribed to the same serious consequences.
The cost of travelling overseas can quickly add up so it pays to know some tips and tricks so you can avoid being ripped off on exchange rates and unnecessary fees as well as get a better deal on your flights.
As someone who constantly has the travel bug, I’m always on the lookout for ways to get more out of my money so that I can afford to squeeze in more trips each year. Here are things that I’ve discovered from my travels over the years.
Having spent years as a fitness instructor and in financial services, there are many lessons I’ve learned from keeping in shape and living a healthy lifestyle that can be transferred to managing your finances.
Social media is changing, advancing and evolving, so it’s difficult for employers to know where they stand legally.
One of the greatest advantages of small businesses is their agility.
The ability to make quick decisions is what makes us so competitive. We’re nimble. Whether it’s launching a new product, responding to customer requests or changing a business’s focus altogether.
I often get asked how small businesses should approach technology. My advice is always the same. To safeguard your business and improve operating efficiency, stay up to date. Small businesses have always been nimble – it’s our greatest strength. Constantly evolving tech is letting us to be more nimble and competitive than ever.
Helping our customers get paid faster and automating administration are mantras at Xero. We’re always looking for ways to help simplify invoicing, make Xero more efficient, or reduce the effort required to get tasks done.
We’re pleased to announce the biggest release since the native version of our Xero Android app. Every pixel of the dated Android 4.x ‘Holo’ look is gone! Xero now follows Google’s ‘Material’ design guidelines. We’ve revisited every single screen with an eye on consistency and #beautiful design. We think you’ll find it a vast improvement.
Creating a quote for services is generally reliant on an individual - often the business owner - whose experience in positioning and pitching their services or products has been refined over time. It requires carefully considering the level of services and resources needed for a job - while still ensuring a certain margin - then presenting that proposal in a way that convinces a potential client that they should click ‘accept’!
As a discipline, time management is all about looking at the way you spend your time, and seeing if you can shuffle tasks around or eliminate tasks altogether so that you might be able to spend your time however you like.
Breakthrough ideas are often not embraced by large companies – particularly if they are not core business. So stated Charles Hull the inventor of 3D printing in the inventor’s session at the recent IP Global Business Congress in San Francisco.
Do you think your store could use more motivated, top performing employees? Do you feel as if your staff could do better at selling and serving customers? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, keep reading.
Today’s post tackles retail staff training and offers best practices on how you can facilitate effective learning to ensure that your staff performs at their best.
To any inventory based business, the ability to control your inventory efficiently is crucial to operating profitably. The moment control is lost, at any stage in the flow of inventory, both productivity and profitability will nosedive.
When I first started out as a copywriter working for myself, I felt a bit lost. There were so many different directions my career could go, and I wasn’t sure which one to take. I’d never worked for myself before. It was daunting, and I wasn’t sure where to begin to find answers.
Most of us today have very busy lives in our businesses.
So I like marketing tips that I can get quickly and put into action fast.
A potential customer has landed on your website, and your home page has so far convinced them enough that they like the vibe of your company. But your site’s job is not done yet. Before they decide if you’re the right business for the job, your customer will click through to your service descriptions to make sure that what you offer fits with what they’re looking for.
Float is an online cash management and forecasting tool that helps you manage your business and keep on top of your cash flow. By projecting your future cash in the bank it’s easier to make the right decisions for your business.
Giving more payment options to your consumers is a proven way to increase sales and grow your business. eWAY's flexible, award-winning solutions make it easy to customise the payment process to suit your industry and your business.
Invoicing clients should be fun - it’s the final step between your hard work and hard cash! But often it’s a stressful process filled with friction and sometimes fiction!
Let’s set the scene. Close your eyes. Imagine.
A staunch, somewhat broad gentleman exhibiting a sunken in face, dressed in the latest season Hugo Boss navy suit and donning a pair of the most expensive Ted Baker shoes, opens the door to the office. His shoulders are drooped as if he were carrying the weight of the world on them. It’s 8:00pm. He walks down the hallway pretending to have purpose – trying his best not to let the onset exhaustion show.
Cloud computing is quickly becoming a viable and effective tool for manufacturing businesses. While there is still room for improvement, the advances already made offer some great inventory management solutions. Many businesses are using it to some degree, although there remains a lack of understanding across the board as to how deeply it can be implemented. Most ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) packages now include cloud modules, and concerns around reliability and security are steadily being overcome.
Often we’re asked for recommendations on what devices to roll out to field staff. While we prefer not to recommend any one device, the following article may shed some light on how to go about making an informed decision.
When asked what inventory management is, business owners often say it’s about keeping control over stock levels: optimising how much inventory your business holds, to minimise costs associated with inventory handling, obsolete stock, and logistics. While inventory management assists with all of these things, its benefits to a business extend far beyond this. With the software available today, a good stock management system can help with making better sales, customer retention, business data analytics, security, and cash flow.
Have you been told that you should use business networking as a tool to grow your business? You should; it’s an awesome way to expand your brand’s reach and find new clients through referrals, particularly if you’re just getting your business off the ground. But, there is SO much more to be gained from business networking - both professionally and personally - if you put the effort in.
In the world of inventory management all mistakes are costly. Errors throughout a business’ supply chain almost always filter down to place unnecessary burden on the bottom line.
For any operations manager, it is extremely important to be aware of the common mistakes to look out for when overseeing inventory as well as to know how to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Whether you’re on vacation, attending a conference, or simply working from home, being out of the office can feel stressful.
Whether in a large corporation or a small retail store, implementing a new piece of software can be a daunting task. One of the largest mistakes an organization can make is overlooking the training investment required with new software.SoftwareInsider recently conducted a survey of potential software buyers and asked what the most important buying factor was when choosing a product. Here were the results:
Talk to any credit control expert and they’ll tell you the sooner you follow up an overdue invoice the better. You’ll not only get paid sooner, but you’ll also send a clear signal to your customer that you take your payment terms seriously.
Discounting is one of the most popular (and arguably among the most effective) ways to drive sales.
I’m a big fan of simple marketing strategies that are easy to use and produce a noticeable impact on your sales results when you use them consistently.
And that’s why I love thank you cards
Thank you cards are easy to use, very affordable and work like magic.
Customer expectations have changed rapidly for retailers, and the pressure to provide great shopping and checkout experiences is more critical than ever. In the last 5 years, it’s become clearer that you’re not just competing with the shops in your community – you’re competing on a global level with every online business. There’s even a new app that will send competitors’ coupons to your customers when they walk into your store.
It’s been three months since we launched Tracked Inventory in Xero. It’s proven to be a great tool for small businesses who want a real-time view of the products they sell.
Our customers are impressed with Inventory in Xero. They’ve found it to be an easy way to keep track of their stock.
I’ve always appreciated the freedom and flexibility mobile tech allows me to have. From staying in touch with my kids overseas to running the family business on the move. In fact, right now I’m writing this on a plane.
And I think it’s the same for most people. With instant notifications and endless apps across phones, tablets and computers, we’ve never been more connected. In one afternoon, I can Skype family, send off a string of emails and tweet a photo from the footy. It’s all so normal now.
I was driving to work the other day - it was still dark, it was cold, it was pouring with rain, and traffic was at a standstill. Looking around, I could tell people were grumpy, fed-up, and exhausted before their work day had even started. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, too; man, if I could be anywhere else but here right now… damn you, work, for getting in the way of a nice relaxing life…!
According to Greek mythology, the temple of Apollo at Delphi was inscribed with the words “Gnothi Seauton.” This translates to “Know thyself” – and it’s a useful maxim for business owners today.
Flexibility and the ability to work from anywhere are increasingly becoming the driving forces behind many career goals. FlexJobs (a leading job search site) has reported a 26% increase in remote jobs advertised from 2013-14. Workers are looking for companies that allow them to set their own schedules, work from home or while travelling, and not stay tied to one company.
Setting a price for your product or service can be difficult to get right. We think we’re rational when we assess the value of something. But there’s actually a lot of factors, including the prices of competitors and our own emotions. Understanding behavioural science is key to setting the right prices and improving your profitability.
If you employ people to provide services to customers, it’s vital to manage the hours invoiced to customers compared to those you pay to staff. Reason being, the differential is potential lost income to your business and precious profit.
“Female customers? Make it pink.”
I once heard this sage advice in a product marketing meeting. It was said partly in jest – but only partly. Does that make it insulting, offensive, and sexist? Or was it a helpful insight into gender biases amongs consumers?
Many successful inventors sometimes talk about “BBB time” – time spent in Bed, in the Bath or on the Bus (or other form of public transport). This is when most new ideas come to them, because they’re relaxed and unfocused. Their minds are running on automatic, free to roam far and wide without the constraint of work or other distractions.
We’re quickly approaching EOFY, the moment that businesses often dread. Time consuming, admin heavy tasks begin to really start to gather momentum, which often means reconciling the entire year’s payroll. However, it shouldn’t be a burden or a time of concern. Instead, it’s an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and begin a new financial year with a clean start to payroll and perhaps a focus on what you’re really in business for.
The end of the first home saver accounts (FHSA) scheme means Australians who have put their money into the FHSA have lost a great vehicle to build up their savings.
Have you ever thought you were doing something good for yourself only to find out it was having the reverse effect? Like having a caffeine-hit only to end up in an even bigger slump, or dry-cleaning that expensive jacket and having it returned ruined. Unfortunately the same can be said for many Australians who keep their savings in a high-interest bank account.
Raw data describes the facts and figures that a business processes every day. Over time, every business hoards a certain amount of data and it only becomes information to a business after it has been processed to add context, relevance and purpose.
If you’d asked anyone 10 years ago about how important technology was in running a successful café, they probably would have responded: not at all!
But today, we are increasingly seeing small businesses embrace technology to grow and be more relevant to their clients.
Secretly, my ultimate goal is an empty inbox. I create folders and subfolders and diligently file emails away as soon as possible, or delete anything I no longer need. The thought of my inbox growing massive in number kind of scares me - an irrational fear that if it grows beyond a certain amount, it’s too late to be saved, and I’d just have to give up and let it run wild. Some might call it OCD, I just like to call it ‘organised’.
As a founding member of the Fast Company magazine team, Polly LaBarre has seen her share of successes—and failures—in the business world. Now the cofounder and director of Management Lab, she helps businesses and entrepreneurs succeed. She starts by asking them a single question: Are you capable of changing as fast as the world is changing?
“Um… I dropped it really, really hard…” I said as I dropped a baggy full of pager pieces on the desk.
The stunned look on our technology specialist’s face was priceless. She poured the beeper’s remains onto her desk. Sifting through shards of plastic, bits of metal and a crushed battery, she smirked and asked, “Stressful day?”
Thinking like a freak means looking at common, everyday problems through an out-of-the-box lens. This process lets you question every step involved in your current systems and processes. It also means re-examining whatever conclusions you arrive at. How can you be sure you’re actually performing at the highest level if you’re not willing to deconstruct the way you’re currently working?
Getting your inventory management strategies working in harmony can be a daunting – but far from impossible – task. The key is recognizing what strategies best suit your business needs and having the tools to implement them effectively and efficiently. If you’re a small business looking to take the leap, or a start-up wanting to get the basics right, there are some critical strategies to consider.
“We have this big myth in the technology industry that we like to impose on everybody — disruption is going to happen and it’s going to destroy you. But this pattern of change actually takes time.”
Running an agency is hard.
It’s the ultimate service-based business where time quite literally equals money. Waste a single second, and you're eating into your margins.
Or even worse, a project that you thought would take 4 weeks takes you 6 weeks. The delay in your deliverable means a delay in a paycheck from your client, and you risk becoming a cashflow negative business.
What is it that makes us truly successful? Renowned psychologist, best-selling author and happiness guru Dr. Robert Holden believes our definition of success has changed over time.
While many of us were brought up to believe that success will make us happy, Robert says we’re now looking at success differently. “In fact, I think many of us today believe happiness actually increases our chances of success,” he says.
Typically defined as: ‘the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.’ (1)
Success means a lot of different things to different people. Success may mean wealth, or it may mean happiness. It may mean fame, and for others it may mean power. But can revenue be a true predictor of success?
No matter how innovative, sought after or profitable your small business may be, without cash in the bank, you’re going to face some serious struggles.
Having a big name retailer move in on your turf can be quite daunting. Retail giants not only carry the name recognition that draws huge crowds, but they also have resources and connections to drive down prices and offer tremendous deals.
Sales drive a small business forward, but too often they’re a sideline rather than a focus.
From owning and selling a small business to being CEO of a billion dollar company, I’ve seen sales from every angle. Here are my suggestions to grow sales by creating a small business where sales are a focus and customers keep coming through your door.
Opening additional retail stores is always an exciting endeavor. When implemented correctly, expanding to new locations enables you to tap into new communities, create more jobs, increase revenues, and more.
In other words, opening additional stores can catapult your business to higher levels of retail success. But in order to achieve that success, you need to plan your expansion thoroughly. Rapidly sprouting up new stores can do more harm than good if you don’t think things through.
Remember - it's a deduction, not $20K in your pocket.