Why Systems Matter.

Why Systems Matter.

Every business owner knows that time is one of their most valuable assets.  So why do we waste so much of it with out dated ways of working? On any one day business owners complete many actions that are replicable, however most will complete these actions time and time again out of habit without much thought into how to make it quicker and easier.  They’re too time poor to step back, define the action, create a system and let it flow. Building a very simple workflow will give you a clear picture of what needs to be done – where information needs to be shared and what the action is.  We can easily identify how it should be done and by whom.  So how do we do this? Draw out a flow chat or enter the details in a table. Identify each step to complete the activity. Is each step necessary or do you complete it out of habit? Understand the action Can you complete the action quicker by use of a template, checklist or online form? Does information need to be shared elsewhere – can this be automated? What tools are involved in this action – can we connect them? Can you document the action and have someone else complete? Building seamless systems isn’t rocket science but it does take time to define  and refine. Spend an extra hour today and enjoy the benefits tomorrow and ever...
3 Productivity Hacks for Small Business

3 Productivity Hacks for Small Business

How many hats do you wear in a day? If you are like most small business owners, you wear more than one, often at the same time. Starting a small business takes a lot of work. There never seems to be enough time to get everything done – most business owners spend evenings and weekends trying to get caught up. The good news – implementing a few productivity hacks will help you get more done in less time.

Are you productive … but ineffective?

Are you productive … but ineffective?

We’re all told to work on our business and not in it – yet it’s impossible to find the time. After all, you probably feel you’re already super-productive because you: Outsource tasks Automate technology Use a sweet project/task management platform that handles your workload and priorities. So, why isn’t your business moving forward? You may be productive, but you’re also ineffective. You’re so caught up doing the ‘busy work’ of your business you never get to the things that allow your business to grow. Which means it’s time to get your priorities straight. “You may be productive but you’re ineffective. It’s time to get your priorities straight and become an effective performer.” Given there are hundreds of tips on time management, productivity and achieving goals I thought I’d narrow things down a bit. Here are three very simple tips which will boost your effectiveness and help move your business forward. 1. Develop your growth game plan If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there? It’s time to: Treat each business-building goal as a project – identify the tasks you need to complete, develop the timeline to complete those tasks and determine the resources you need to make it happen. Break those tasks down into manageable chunks – this will help avoid overwhelm and procrastination when completing them. Ideally your tasks will take less than an hour to complete. Use the ‘focus hour’ methodology (commit to spending an hour on one task and turn off all distractions) to make it happen. Write down your tasks on your to-do list or project platform. Block out...
5 things I learnt from picking up the phone

5 things I learnt from picking up the phone

When it comes to making a sales call do you evade or embrace? Is it a big fat elephant in the room? Do you avoid eye contact and hope instead that the phone will ring? I’m probably like most small business owners – great at what I do but when it comes to the sales cycle I’m not as structured or confident as other areas of my business. As a result, I tend to hide a little behind the comfort of a follow-up email instead of picking up the phone. That whole ‘Heh, how are you? I’m just checking in to ask if you would like to meet’ type of email. Hell, I’ll even send the email from my CRM so that I can monitor whether they open it or not to gauge their interest. It was time for a serious talk with myself. I’m a productive person but after looking at my sales practices I could see I was falling down. Badly. I mean really, is it the most productive use of my time to send an email out, monitor whether someone has opened it then wait around hoping that they’ll respond or give me a call. Nope. Definitely not. So I decided to pick up the phone. Surprisingly, once I’d set myself the goal to make the calls it was easier than I thought. Here are five things I learnt from the process. “I’m a productive person but after looking at my sales practices, I could see that I was falling down. Badly. “ 1. They want you to call. There are any number of reasons that warm...
My Top 5 Productivity Tips

My Top 5 Productivity Tips

Do you find yourself frustrated at the end of your working day?  Feel like you’ve been ‘busy’ all day yet actually achieved nothing?  Where the hell did your time go? I have a question.  Are you being busy or productive? Many small business owners I speak with feel like this and the reason is, most are working in an ad hoc way with little or no structure.  They may have a task list but not enough planning.  They’re focusing on (and in many cases doing) the wrong things.  Not concentrating enough on their high level, income generating tasks but more on the low level stuff that quite frankly almost anyone could do. Here’s my top 5 tips to turn your productivity around:   Plan, plan, plan Plan your day the night before.  Knowing exactly where to focus your energy gives you a head start to the day and stops the fluffing around when you reach your desk in the morning. Plan your large projects and break down the tasks to ones you can complete in less than an hour (if you can break them down to less than that even better).  Breaking down your tasks will reduce your overwhelm and allow you to complete them quickly (i.e. during your focus hour – more on that later). Plan your week.  Give yourself time to complete client or project work – schedule time in your calendar so you don’t overbook online or in person meetings.  Schedule time in your calendar for yourself.  You cannot operate at your peak performance if you’re feeling tired or grumpy because you haven’t given yourself time for you. Identify Non-Profitable...
3 Simple IT Tasks (that could save your business)

3 Simple IT Tasks (that could save your business)

When it comes to IT most small business owners just want it to work. They don’t need or want to know the detail and happily outsource this side of things to someone else. That’s great. I’m always supportive of outsourcing complex tasks! As the business owner, however, it is your responsibility to understand how Information Technology can affect your livelihood if not maintained correctly. I don’t mean to be alarmist but you could be one click away from losing your business. What can you do to combat this? Simply complete these three simple tasks on a regular basis and you’ll reduce your risk (and save some outsourcing dollars while you’re there). 1. Complete those auto-updates You know the ones, the annoying updates that pop up when you’re in the middle of something that you never get around to completing. You click cancel and it goes away. The thing is these updates are REALLY important. Not only to the security of your software but also how well your software performs. Spend a few minutes updating and you’ll not only patch up those security loopholes the manufacturer has found, but, as bugs will be fixed and new software features rolled out, you’ll also be more productive. So what should you update? Operating System Software – this includes installed software such as MS Word and cloud-based installed software such as Evernote. Website version and plugin updates Any software updates for hardware connected to your IT functions 2. Back up, back up, back up Seriously, I cannot say this enough. Backup your data people. I am still meeting business owners who have their...
Insightly – Why it’s my No. 1 tool

Insightly – Why it’s my No. 1 tool

My go – to tool for business is Insightly CRM.  Its at the centre of my day to day world and houses my CRM (customer database), my current  and future tasks and manages my projects and prospects.  But it also does so much more. There many reasons I love working with Insightly – here’s my top 3. Customisation Many areas of Insightly CRM are fully customisable allowing you to capture and report on the data specific to your business. Custom fields can be developed for your contacts, organisations, leads, opportunities and projects. You have the ability to filter your data based on these (or any other) data fields then add notes, files or email the group.  You can also develop custom reports based on these fields providing you with a complete view of your current and future business. Lead, opportunity and project tasks can be defined and automatically allocated to the right team members with the date the task is due.  This not only saves you a ton of admin but also means that you maintain your quality of service and ensures that all process steps are captured and completed on time. You have the ability to allocate tasks to another user in one click and can have task reminders distributed either automatically or on a one by one basis. Custom email templates can be developed with field merges which means you can send customised communications to one or many contacts (or have someone else send them without the risk of spelling or grammar mistakes).  It also has some nifty email reporting – at a glance you know whether...
How to Get Everything Done

How to Get Everything Done

A client recently asked me how they can capture everything they need to do and have the time to get everything done.  What is the magic formula? Although I don’t have a magic formula as not everyone works in the same way, I did share with them an overview of how I capture everything, and what works well for me. I thought it may be useful to share with you too  …. How I capture everything and schedule my time General & Recurring tasks: I use a platform called Insightly which is a combined CRM and task/project manager. Within Insightly I have pre-determined workflows which create automated tasks – for example, the action of engaging a new client creates tasks such as connecting on social media, organising a time to catch up, sending out a business overview etc.  These tasks automatically filter into my to do list once the workflow is applied to the contact. I also use Insightly to schedule recurring tasks such as a review of social media, updating website plug ins, completing my monthly accounts etc.  Again, these are automatically applied to my task list based on the schedule set. Using these tools means I can concentrate on my daily to do list with the comfort that all tasks have been captured. Project based tasks Any large project that I’m working on gets broken down into smaller chunks.  For example, I’m currently working on development of online training.  As this project has many components I’ve set a recurring daily task to complete one chunk per day.  This makes the project manageable, doesn’t overwhelm me and will be completed to...
3 reasons your offshore VA sucked

3 reasons your offshore VA sucked

Offshore outsourcing is hot with many small business owners giving it a try. Offshore VA’s (Virtual Assistants) especially are in great demand due to their wide skill set and ability to take all those little but time consuming tasks off of your plate. An offshore VA is often touted as the answer to your business woes and frustrations. They’ll complete your admin and won’t break the bank. You’ll be able to scale your business and concentrate on the stuff you excel at. Sounds great right? The reality however for many business owners is very different. They give it a try, and it sucks. The end result is poor, communication is difficult and managing the VA becomes more frustrating than just getting on with the job yourself. Sound familiar? I’m sorry to tell you – its not them its you. Where did you go wrong? No Clear Instructions. To work with an offshore VA successfully you need to provide exact instructions with no room for interpretation. If you’re not clear on what you want how can you expect someone else to be? You need to tell your VA what you want done, how you want it completed and what the end result should look like. A quick conversation just won’t cut it in most cases, usually English is their second language. We also use industry terms that may not be understood and quite often due to cultural differences your VA will say they understand when in fact, they only caught a fraction of your request. How to get it right: Simply create a workflow for the task and develop a...
3 Simple admin tips that WILL save an hour a day

3 Simple admin tips that WILL save an hour a day

You’re a busy business owner – I get it. I’ve got to be honest with you though – you’re wasting a lot of time, yes many hours on basic administration tasks simply because you’re not organised. It’s a big statement but its true. I see many clients on a daily basis who are amazing at what they do but they’re busier than they need to be because they haven’t got their basic admin tools in place. Imagine how much additional income you could have by simply saving 1 hour per day on your admin? I’m sharing these 3 quick tips because I know that if you put them in place, and use them, you’ll save not only an hour per day but a hell of a lot of frustration. Get your digital filing structured. It still surprises me but I cannot tell you how many business owners think that having random files on their desktop, saved to their local computer drive or saved in randomly named folder is ok. Do you stuff all of your paper files, bills etc into a drawer and forget about them? If you do – you may want to stop reading now J I know you probably think its ok as you know where all your random files are – its your own special way of filing but honestly, every time you go looking for a document you’re wasting a couple of minutes every time. It all adds up. Get your online files structured in a logical way and it will not only save you time now but when it comes to recruiting a staff...
Top 5 Tips for Guilt Free ‘Me’ Time

Top 5 Tips for Guilt Free ‘Me’ Time

I’m a great believer in small business owners making time for themselves away from their business and freely enjoying the life they love.  Its important to give our body and soul the space to re-charge and re-fresh so that we can give more to our business pursuits. All to often we feel guilty with the business and personal life tug of war.  There’s always so much to do and often we do everything ourselves.  There are goals to reach, sales to make, marketing to complete and accounts to process.  However the truth is that by stopping and allowing ourselves time out to recharge – we become infinitely more productive. Easier said than done? Here’s my top 5 tips on how to organise your business and allow yourself guilt free me (and family) time. Get the right tools.  To manage a business effectively there’s certain tools that every business needs: CRM (customer relationship management system) or database.  Note: an excel spreadsheet isn’t going to save you time or give you the customer insights your business needs. Project manager or task planner to take control of your projects, plan your required resources and automate what you need to do and when. E-marketing system with auto responders to maximise your marketing opportunities and automate your communications Cloud based tools so you’re able to work from anywhere and maximise the time you spend away from your desk.  Use cloud file storage, cloud based business platforms and ensure your email and calendar are mobile enabled. There’s literally hundreds of business tools available to help you manage your business effectively. Some basic tools are free and many...
How to live the Small Business dream.

How to live the Small Business dream.

Why do business owners decide to venture out alone? Why leave the security of a regular income, the comfort of a workplace and if you’re lucky, a great working culture? Why did you start your business? • Work / Life flexibility? • Control of your working environment? • Financial gain? • Following your passion? In the early days of starting a business, the picture we all have is clear. We know there’s hard work ahead but the rewards will be great. We’ll work flexible hours – have a lunchtime swim, enjoy time with the kids then complete some work in the evening. We’re going to develop an awesome culture for clients and future staff and surround ourselves with positive influences and people. Yes, the risk is high but so is the financial gain and hey, its my passion so its not like work anyhow. Sound familiar? Unfortunately the reality for many business owners is very different. I was talking with the awesome Annabelle Drumm recently at Kitegirl Coach about this very topic and looked at the dream vs. reality. I’ve broken down how the average small business owner spends 24 hours. Is this your reality?     So how can a small business owner turn their dream into reality? How can we get more sleep, reduce the worry, have more time to generate income and more time for fun? Quite simply – by working smarter – developing clear systems and processes and outsourcing tasks that take us away from directly generating income. Yes, there is an investment of time and effort and potentially money, but the benefits to you...

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