How to create good habits in business

If you’re like most small business owners, there are never enough hours in the day to complete every task on your list.
Often you’re faced with prioritizing what you need to do right now – deal with a customer, meet a deadline, attend an event – and the things you know you should do for the ongoing growth of your business.

Scheduling time to attend to these business activities on a regular basis is a great way to get on track for greater success.

Know your numbers

It’s not uncommon for business owners to lose touch with how well their business is performing on a day-to-day basis. But an awareness of your real time income and expenses is the key to making better decisions that will nurture growth.

Implement these changes and see the difference they make in your business:

  • Switch to an online accounting solution that offers access to real time data anywhere, anytime
  • Monitor your finances on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis; review the data with your accountant often
  • Check in on your other numbers, too – your website metrics and software analytics – so you know whether your marketing, lead generation, and sales tactics are working.

Update your business plan

Companies should update their business plan at least once a year—sooner if there’s an upcoming change that requires planning, financing, or re-assigning resources (for instance, a product launch, an opportunity to start importing/exporting, or a new side business).
Many business owners neglect to revise their plans on a regular basis. They end up operating on autopilot, losing sight of their bigger goals and the steps they planned to take their business to the next level.
The start of a new year is an excellent time to set goals, mark milestones, and start implementing your plans. The timing also lines up nicely with closing out the previous year’s books, so you can plan with your latest annual figures in mind.

Hire help

It sounds simple, but the self-sufficient, independent nature of many entrepreneurs can make it difficult to get comfortable delegating responsibility. Finding the right people to relieve the burden of doing everything, all the time, is the only way a business can scale and reach its potential.

Think carefully about how you spend your days. Are you still at the point where you want to – or need to – do it all? The ultimate success of any company is to reach the point where it can run without you, so you can enjoy a holiday, pass the business on to a family member, or sell it.
It can take time to find the right people that you can trust to perform their jobs well and continue to grow your business. A recruitment agency can help you craft an attractive job description and recruit so you can focus on strategies that can bring you greater enjoyment and success.
Developing new business habits takes time and commitment – but the pay off is well worth it! Which of these business habits is most important for you to commit to this year?



Getting the work–life balance right

As a small business owner it’s hard to juggle your work and outside responsibilities. It’s important to run your business effectively and still have a life outside the office.

You need a good balance between work and play for your health and well-being. Small business owners often fall into the trap of working too hard, ending up exhausted from the constant work demands associated with self-employment.

Why you need balance

Working too much without taking time out for yourself and your family can quickly become counterproductive. You’ll be tired, stressed and irritable, leaving you unable to perform optimally. As a result, you’ll be more likely to make mistakes and snap at people who are important to you and your business.

Some dangers of overworking include:

  • Missing opportunities because you’re too busy
  • Being short-tempered with your staff, affecting their attitude and performance
  • Treating your family poorly, resulting in an uncomfortable home life
  • Working to the point of burn out or illness
  • Losing the passion that prompted you to start your business.

Avoid burn out

There are a number of things you can do to scale down your workload and regain a sense of balance.

Start delegating

Delegating will take some of the pressure off you and free up time for more urgent and important tasks, allowing you some leisure time to relax.

Create good systems

Develop a clear operations manual for each process in your business. This lets you and key staff take a break, and speeds up training when someone new comes into the business.

Stretch and walk

Take a few minutes every so often to get up from your desk and stretch. It’s good for your body and will help you stay focused.

Talk to your family

Ask for suggestions and input – they’ll see things that you can’t.

Network with other business owners

Chat to fellow business owners who seem to be working normal hours. You’ll stop feeling so isolated and you might get some valuable advice.

Take mini-breaks

Put mini-breaks into your diary. Schedule a day off once a month, a week off every 12 weeks, or perhaps take every second Friday off.

Re-evaluate your client base

Do you have customers that take up far too much of your time for very little gain? Find a polite way to stop doing business with them or pass them on to staff members to deal with.

Stay motivated

Staying passionate about your business and motivated to do your best is important. If you find you just don’t have the energy you once had, your staff and business will suffer. Take action before you start to enter a negative spiral.

You could try the following:

  • Set exciting and challenging new goals.
  • Share your goals with your staff so everyone understands what you want to achieve.
  • Set measurable ‘stepping stones’ to the main goals and celebrate each achievement.
  • Refresh your daily routine. Allocate blocks in your diary for key daily activities, such as checking emails, meetings, and visiting clients.

By staying motivated and avoiding burn out you’ll have the foundations in place to enjoy running your business again, while also retaining a fulfilling life outside work.



9 reasons to switch to cloud computing

Don’t be left up in the air by traditional IT solutions. Check out the top 9 advantages for small businesses switching to cloud computing.

Cloud computing is fast becoming the norm because storing information and using software hosted on the Internet has many advantages.

1. Save money

Traditionally, a small business spends money licensing software or buying packages to install or download onto individual computers. Cloud computing, on the other hand, can provide ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) – including many programs that are available individually.

They’re stored on a service provider’s remote servers instead of on your hard drive so you don’t need a high-end computer to use them.

The automation provided by cloud computing also saves costs. Many companies have slashed their IT overheads because their service providers are directly taking care of updates and program maintenance for them.

2. Save time

Cloud computing was developed to be an on-tap service that requires little knowledge or input from the end user. As such, cloud computing has done away with the end user having to install programs, download updates. You won’t have to stop work for a download bar to fill on your screen or an IT staff member to install a program.

3. Share more

Staff don’t have to rely on email to contend with location issues. For example, a colleague on a fact-finding trip to Shanghai could find a company document online, rather than waiting for co-workers back at the office to find and email it.

4. Flexibility

Data storage is one of the core SaaS offerings of cloud computing – it allows even large corporates to access huge databases of information without having to operate their own floors of servers.

This outsourcing means that instead of having to invest in more hard drives and servers to increase capacity, a growing business can simply store everything on the cloud. All you need is an Internet connection and devices to access it.

5. Improve reliability

Cloud computing is proving that software as a service, rather than as a product, is more reliable. With so many people using a single program, instead of everyone using individual copies, service providers are directly managing software and being updated about issues immediately.

Fewer problems are arising because software isn’t being downloaded onto individually customised computers containing other programs and systems that the software might not be compatible with.

6. Be mobile

It’s almost as if cloud computing was designed specifically for mobile devices because you don’t rely on the device itself for storage capacity. You don’t have to email documents from home to work computers anymore.

7. Improve security

Security is the biggest issue people have with cloud computing because users have to hand over responsibility for data security to their service providers.

Cloud computing always makes sense when it comes to guarding against physical theft, such as a break-in at a business’s premises. However, the hacking or system failure of servers containing masses of user data remains a concern.

8. Quickly recover from disaster

Backing up important documents on a separate hard drive is important, whether you’re using cloud computing or not. But in the case of a natural disaster that denies you access to your premises, cloud computing can be advantageous.

Because you can access your documents anywhere there’s an Internet connection, cloud computing can be a vital tool to ensure business continuity.

9. Bankability

The cost and time savings implied by using cloud computing can be promoted as an advantage in business plans. It’s not just an alternative choice to traditional IT set-ups but an evolution of IT thinking. It can be applied to make a business leaner and more effective at service delivery.

Studies have evaluated the lifecycle cost savings of cloud computing at up to 50% for companies using high numbers of in-house servers. Add to that, the elimination of service interruptions caused by traditional IT issues, such as downloading updates and fixing system errors, and your company can move forward a lot faster than your competition.



The True Value of Networking

There are all kinds of groups dedicated to networking. Some are highly structured with performance requirements, exclusive membership, and the payment of dues. Others are free form, come as you please and no charge.

Not every group is right for every kind of business. You will find that some groups may simply not have connections in the market you are seeking to attract. You will find some groups have rules that just don’t fit with how your business works.

Yet there is one factor that is often overlooked when considering a networking group; does this group offer more long-term value, or short-term value?

Read More »