Find Your Flow To Stop Profits Plunging

How much work really gets done in your business? Before you answer, it’s worth noting that the amount of work that gets done isn’t the same as the amount of work that you and your team do. The productivity of the team depends very much on the efficiency of the work they’re doing. It’s called the workflow, and when it’s smooth, you get a high return on results for the time put in. When it’s blocked and redirected and slowed, you can work as hard as you can and still get very little done. Here, we’re going to investigate some of the many causes of workflow issues in the business and what you do about them.

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Busy with busywork

Busywork is one of the worst enemies of a business. Especially when you’re first starting out, feeling your day dragged down by monotonous, low value, but essential tasks can feel like you’re a hamster in a wheel. HR, bookkeeping, and schedule arranging are just some examples of this productivity-sapping busywork. With a little time and investment, however, you can find lots of ways to get around your busywork. For instance, you can use software to automate as much of it as possible. Or you can outsource it to a virtual assistant. Or even delegate it to other members of the team, providing it has some value to them such as training them in a new skill. Whatever method you use to clear busywork off your desk, you can focus on the work that will actually make you money.

Time well spent

Another way to get a better balance between the kinds of work you do is to better schedule it. Plan out your days. Many of us have a ‘to-do’ list, but we also need a ‘to-don’t’ list. This is a way of prioritizing your work. Sort them by which are the most time-sensitive and which are the most important. Whatever tasks fit those categories the least, those go on the ‘to-don’t’ list for the day. When you know what work you have, you should also use batch arranging. When you switch from one process to the next, productivity takes a hit while your brain switches gears. Make those gear switches as few and far between. If, for instance, you have two tasks for the day that require the use of spreadsheet software, do one immediately after other, instead of doing them on either end of a task that requires you to make phone calls. Above all else, start by making a schedule and dictating how much time you can spend on a task at an absolute maximum. That way you make sure you have a reasonable expectation that you can get everything on the agenda done for the day.

Where’s it all going?

Another way to prioritize your work is to figure out where it’s all going. The best way to do that is to set your goals in advance. Short-term, medium-term and long-term goals are all important. Which goals does that task fit? If it’s non-essential and it doesn’t contribute to any of your current goals, rethink whether it needs to be done now or if it can wait.

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Get them in on it

Of course, the tips above also apply to members of your team. But beyond helping to organize their workday, ensuring that they’re motivated to tackle the work provided will be a big help. Unmotivated workers are more easily distracted and generally a lot less engaged and productive with their work. Make sure the right person is matched to the right job based on their skills, that they know their goals and how they align with the team’s and consider incentivizing good results. For instance, let them know that the path to further training and skills lies in achieving what you’ve set for them now.

Processing the process

Even if they’re engaged with the work, your team might not always be doing it in the most productive way. This is an issue especially with businesses where every member has their expertise and is relied on exclusively to handle it. When a business relies on individual knowledge, it leaves itself open to the risk they may be absent or leave and take the ‘key to the castle’, so to speak, with them. Avoid that, and make sure any replacements or stand-ins they have are using the best methods. The way to do that is to systemize all the most common and important processes in the business. This means not only discovering the most effective methods of tackling a process but documenting them so that any new recruits or replacements can more quickly learn the most efficient methods. Of course, if someone has an idea that they think is better than the proposed systemized route, give them a chance to try it out. But don’t force every new challenger to the task to think up the process from scratch.

The danger of distraction

Distraction isn’t always down to a worker who isn’t motivated enough to concentrate on the work. Think about the top sources of distraction in the office. If they spend too much time on social media or irrelevant internet sites, consider restricting certain sites on their devices within certain times. If they can’t concentrate due to noise, think about their physical work environment and whether rearranging them or getting them new furniture can provide a little more quiet for them.

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Communication conundrums

Effective internal communication is the cornerstone of any business. Employees need to be able to understand and acquire the information they need to do their jobs in short order. For that reason, seriously consider how you communicate. What’s the most effective way to share a certain kind of information? For instance, a response to a query might be best answered in email. Unless it’s a more detailed conversation in which case a face-to-face and hands-on teaching may result in a quicker understanding. Or unless it’s information they should always have access to, in which you can make it ‘sticky’, either by hosting it on a shared server everyone has access to or by printing handouts and passing them around. Depending on the information that needs to be delivered, different methods to sharing it can be the difference between quick, clear communication and a business full of uncertainties and errors.

It’s not fun without funding

There are few greater disruptions to your workflow than not having the money you need to keep the business running. There are, of course, the very real risks that you can no longer afford members of the team you need or to keep the lights on in the office. Before then, however, lacking funding could mean you lack access to maintenance or repairs that keep your IT running or you lack the money to lease equipment you need for a certain job. A business owner should always keep in mind the potential sources of funding available to them to smooth out any potential cashflow road bump that could turn into a productivity pothole.

Paying for your problems

Then there are those costs that are much less expected. The problems are the same, if you don’t have a healthy cash flow, you won’t have an efficient business. However, the causes are a lot more direct. If you have to go out of pocket for repairs to a piece of equipment damaged by fire or natural disaster or stolen from the office, you simply might not be able to afford it. This is why every business owner needs to find commercial insurance information about which risks are most likely to hit their business. If you don’t protect your assets in advance, work will grind to a halt as you attempt to find funding for them later.

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Waiting on your money

Sticking with the link between money and productivity, there are few things more frustrating than slowing your pace because you’re waiting on money that should be with you right now. This is most common for businesses that use credit arrangements or invoices instead of straight cash transactions. With credit, it’s all about being thorough with who you let use credit and running checks to get as best an estimate as possible that they will pay reliably. With invoices, you can use factoring to get advances on the money you’re owed, but the best long-term solution is to set transparent payment terms, including dates, so you’re never kept waiting on money to the point it affects your scheduled cash flow projections.

You’re just not big enough

It’s a problem all businesses have. You don’t have the manpower or the skill supply to take on absolutely everything you need. In time, you should focus on growing to the point where you do. For now, however, it’s a good idea to get acquainted with the market of relevant outsourced service providers. It’s less cost-effective in the long run, but it’s a lot less risky than trying to hire someone you don’t necessarily have the funds to support.

Follow the tips above and the next time you’re asked how much work gets done in the business, you can offer the same answer as the amount of work you actually do.

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Safety First: How to Protect Your Small Business

When you run a small business, whether as a home-based sole trader or managing a small team, what could be minor problems for a huge corporation could literally be the end of your enterprise. As a small business owner, it can often seem like you are taking one step forward and two back as you attempt to navigate your way through all of the problems and issues that face a business today. You need to think about financial forecasts and business plans, how the economy could affect you, marketing, sales, customer service, website development, product or service quality and much more. One area you can’t afford to neglect is safety. Failing to protect your business adequately could see all of your time, effort and hard work come to nothing. Here is what you need to do to make sure your small business is safe and protected from threats.

Insurance

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Insurance may seem expensive but it could save you a fortune. Source

The insurance you need will largely depend on what kind of business you are involved in. Some options include small business insurance, liability insurance, and extended home insurance if you plan to work there. People have a habit of putting off coverage, or only getting the absolute minimum to cut costs. But, this can be much more expensive if there’s a problem later.

Keep It Legal

Legislation and licensing also depend on your business field. But, it’s a legal requirement to get everything you need. If you work with food, you’ll need health and safety and food hygiene certificates for your place of work. If you sell to the public, you may need a sales license. Find out what you need, and give yourself plenty of time to sort everything out before you open your doors for the first time. It can take up to 12 weeks.

Back It Up

As a small business owner or sole trader, one of the worst things that can happen is losing your files and documents. Protect yourself by backing everything up. Here, Casey Explains Exactly How To Back Up Your iPhone and you should also make sure everything is saved to the cloud or on an external hard drive.

Think Cybersecurity

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Being safe online is essential. Source

Cybersecurity is one of the biggest threats to both small and large businesses today. It’s one you cannot afford to ignore. Adequate cybersecurity can ensure your business is safe, both now and in the future. Just make sure you update your security systems regularly.

Trust Your Staff

One way to ensure your business is safe is by hiring the most trustworthy staff. These are the people you are going to trust to look after your business, help it to grow and spot any issues that could pose threats. Make sure you’ve got a thorough recruitment process and that their training is comprehensive.

Building Safety

Consider installing security cameras and other security cameras to keep your business premises safe.

Safety and protection might seem like another thing to add to what is sure to be a massive to-do list already. But, it’s one thing that you absolutely cannot afford to get wrong.

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Patients Are A Virtue… Starting A Medical Practice Business

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It is a given in life, people need healthcare, which makes it a great way to earn a living as an entrepreneur. A lot of healthcare startups have soared in recent years, partially as a result of the digital era, but how can you grow your business in an organic and a, pardon the pun, healthy manner?

Keeping Ahead Of The Technical Curve

Any business requires up to date technology, from the computers themselves, to medical computing carts, to the medication dispenser machines, all the way through to the mobile applications. Now, in the digital era, this is a very good way to keep ahead of the curve when it comes to serving your patients, mobile applications are a fantastic way to cut down on common issues in medical services, such as waiting times. This means that your patients, as well as your staff, are happy.

Supporting Your Workers

As anybody will attest, stress is a major part of working for a medical organization, so you need to make sure that you provide the adequate support in how your workers can manage their stress. Maybe you need a stress counsellor on board, or you need to provide a sense of moral support within the framework, such as a helpline for medical workers. But also to improve your staff’s morale, you need to eradicate the one thing that is the main bugbear for any worker in any organization, the amount they get paid. You need to make sure that you pay them the equivalent of what their skills are. If not, they will not work as hard as you want them to, and you will lose them.

Coping With Regulation

Regulation is massive in the healthcare industry, and while it may feel like there are a lot of hoops to jump through, as an entrepreneur, the best way to gain perspective on the situation is to realize it is just another term for a process. If you are a skilled entrepreneur, no doubt you are very adept at processes. So by coping with regulations, and by having the adequate framework in place to deal with regulations as and when they change, you will be ready on all fronts.

The Battles Of The Medical Industry

In any business, you expect a long period before you start to break even, but this usually means a year or two. In the medical industry, it’s a little bit different, there are longer sales cycles. It can be between 5 and 10 years of doing business before you are bought out by one of the bigger companies. If this is your goal from the outset, you need to be prepared for the long game.

Yes, the healthcare industry is booming because of the need for high-quality healthcare, but as an entrepreneur, when you are running a business, there are those same transactions between customer and business. But in the healthcare industry, it is a little bit different in comparison to the typical sales channels, of course, your consumers are people that are unwell. Your goal is to make sure that they are well, your staff is as caring as possible, and so, by implementing a caring relationship as the heart of your business, this is what will help you succeed in the healthcare start-up industry.

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Prevent A Pest Invasion In Your Home

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Cute But Noisy Flickr Picture

Have you ever had an issue with pests, insects or animals in your home? Well, if you haven’t yet, you could in the future. Animals and pests in the home can be a real nuisance, damaging your property, causing environmental dangers and they might even make your home unsafe to live in. Some animals can be rather vicious, and that’s why they need to be dealt with straight away. But before we look at the ways to deal with animals and insects entering your home, let’s explore some of the options to stop it from ever happening.

Holes In The Roof

If you find that there is a bird or animal living in your attic at some point, there’s a good chance they have entered through a hole in the roof that you haven’t noticed. It is possible for a hole to develop in the roof and for no one to pay it the slightest amount of attention. Think about it, how often do you go in the attic? If the answer is as little as possible, a hole could be there for weeks or even months. That’s more than enough time for a pesky bird to enter your home and perhaps even build a nest.

That’s why you should be checking your roof and the attic after spouts of bad weather. You never know whether a large gust of wind might have blown a few tiles off, leaving an opening big enough for a visitor.

Keeping The House Clean

If you want to avoid insects entering the home, it’s best to keep it as clean and tidy as possible. Don’t forget, insects are like any other living creature. They have basic needs to survive. If you take one of these needs away like a food source, then you can instantly ensure they don’t creep inside your home. So, make sure you’re not leaving food crumbs on the floor, and you should never see a trail of ants wandering across your kitchen.

Secure Your Trash

Of course, some animals will be attracted due to a food source outside of your home like your trash. You need to make sure that your garbage is properly secure so that critters like racoons can’t get in. To a racoon, your trash can will be an all you can eat buffet. However, if the lid is secure, it won’t be able to get in and will scuttle off to your neighbour’s house. Don’t forget, once on your property, they might decide to live somewhere like your attic. At this point, a professional racoon removal service is your only option. You can not deal with an animal like this by yourself as it could actually attack you or your family. It’s also important that they are dealt with humanely.

Contact An Expert

There are very few situations where you can deal with a pest or insect infestation yourself. If you’re not careful, you might find that you don’t solve the issue completely or that you end up in a dangerous situation. Both are something you need to avoid at all costs.

Take this advice, and as well as being able to deal with an infect infestation or a pest invasion, you’ll be able to prevent one as well.

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Facing Up To Confidence

Confidence is not something that we are often born with, but it is something you can learn to feel. The way we feel on the inside is often directly linked to how we look on the outside, and while we are taught that it’s what on the inside that counts, sometimes that’s just not enough. It’s something that is a catch-22; if you don’t feel like you look good, you won’t feel happy or confident. The day to day moods we feel, our future career choices and even the people we plan to socialise with are all affected by our confidence levels.

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Our world is driven digitally by social media and thus, appearances are the first things we judge. Taking the time on how we look, choosing clothes that are flattering and learning how to use makeup are all ways we improve our confidence. We also invest money in cosmetic surgeries and surgeries for dentistry, including impacted wisdom tooth extraction. When we look good, we feel great, so it makes sense that when we want to feel wonderful we make changes to our looks.

A lot of what we do to look great is temporary, including cosmetic surgery. Fillers and Botox don’t last forever, which is why we need to take steps to identify why we don’t feel good about ourselves in the first place. Understanding that can help us to gain a natural confidence without the need for changes to the body like surgery brings us. Gaining confidence in yourself can give you the following:

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  • The ability to enjoy life. When you are unhappy with the way that you look, or you shy away from the camera and refuse to have your photo taken, you are stopping yourself from enjoying the world around you. It’s really difficult to get out of a cycle of low self-esteem, so you need to look into why your self-esteem is low and work on improving it so that life becomes something you want to love rather than something to be endured.
  • The ability to empower yourself. Making changes to how you feel about yourself can empower you to feel fantastic on the inside. Updating your wardrobe, investing in cosmetic surgery and taking a workout class so your weight is a healthy one, are all empowering ways to feel great about yourself.
  • The ability to celebrate yourself. A big part of gaining some confidence is to know when to feel good about yourself. Praising yourself when you hit your goals is important, as you can celebrate that achievement and know you can hit your targets.
  • The ability to shine socially. An introvert who isn’t comfortable in a crowded place will be more obvious than someone who is a social butterfly. The confidence that you claw back for yourself can make itself obvious in a social situation, making you feel amazing and making others around you recognise your happiness.

Confidence is not easy to come by, but once you have it you mustn’t let it go!

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