Business improvement Archives | Page 2 of 15 |

Posts Tagged ‘Business improvement

You are here: »

The global pandemic is set to affect not just public health but also the economy. As business owners scramble to do what they can to keep their businesses afloat, provide support to their employees, and cater to their clientele during these challenging times, it is very easy to focus on others that we tend to forget to take care of ourselves.

In this video, I explore practical things that we can do to take care of our mental health while working to overcome the challenges we are facing during this health crisis.

How are you doing? I hope that this video finds you well, and despite what’s going on today, that you are taking care of yourself. As a business owner, it is easy to put others ahead of yourselves, especially the team that works in your business.

However, your business cannot survive without its most important asset—and that’s you. I have discussed the importance of taking care of yourself in a previous video, calling attention to the need to rest and recover, because doing so makes you a better business owner, a better boss, and a better person overall.

While the advice in this previous video still applies, I would like to provide specific examples on how you can take care of your mental health during this crisis. It is also important to focus on ourselves—because we cannot help others if we don’t help ourselves first.

Here are a few practical tips that we can do to take care of our mental health.

  • Find a supportive community

It is important to remember that we are all in this together and that, if we work together during this crisis, we can prevail over its negative impact. This means looking for and reaching out to likeminded individuals who may share our worries and, more importantly, the resolve to find ways to make a positive impact in spite of current circumstances.

This is the time to surround ourselves with people who have a positive outlook and who are motivated to not just survive but also to succeed and even make a positive contribution to others. This is especially important if we get easily affected by negativity that we find around us, especially in social media.

  • Exercise our brain

If your current circumstances allow you some downtime, maybe it’s time to use this gift of time to exercise your brain. If there’s an online course you’ve always wanted to take or a book (or books) that you’ve always wanted to read but never had the time for, this is the time to go for it.

Perhaps this is the best time to reinvest time for ourselves. Also, focusing on learning puts us in a position of being in control at a time when many of us feel insecure or may have feelings of helplessness. During these times, it is best to redirect our energy into something that can produce positive results, such as reading or learning. Most of all, and best of all, it puts you in a position of being in control.

  • Remember self-care

On the flipside, some of us may be pre-occupied with many challenges in our business. Maybe our customers or even our employees are looking to us for more support, which means we work more hours to address these concerns. Perhaps the problem is that we do not have time to spare at all.

Whatever the case, please remember to find the time for yourself and practice self-care. It is tempting to focus on our productivity during this pandemic—it seems like we are given more time than usual as the world slows down and many industries come to a halt. But mental health professionals warn that this is not always healthy—and that it is perfectly fine to be unproductive.

These are exceptional times. It’s OK to not expect too much of ourselves and instead focus on being kind to ourselves. Take a walk. Meditate. Find a new hobby—or pick up an old one. Listen to soothing music. Maybe skip work altogether in the middle of the week if you need to.

  • Separate work from home

As governments around the world call on its citizens to stay home to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, this move has introduced the largest experiment on working from home. And it has also introduced a lot of disruptions and challenges, especially to those who consider their home a place to rest, relax, and decompress.

The first rule of working from home is to establish physical, emotional, and mental boundaries. Set up a routine—and if you can, follow your usual routine. Wake up, eat, and sleep at the same time. Work the same hours if you can. Don’t work if it’s time to rest. Put those phones and laptops down at the end of the work day.

I recognise that this becomes a challenge when you have a family and have kids. This is why routines matter. At the same time, we also need to leave space for flexibility and accept that things won’t always go as planned—this is something new, after all. We didn’t expect this and we couldn’t have planned for this. It’s OK if things aren’t perfect. Do NOT expect them to be. Like in your business planning, be flexible as you work from home to get things done.

  • Help out: volunteer or donate

There is a lot of research that show how volunteering and helping others promote psychological well-being. It helps relieve stress and anxiety. Volunteering and helping out has also shown to help people find purpose and meaning, which brings them feelings of optimism.

And if all else fails, perhaps it is time to reach out and seek help from people who have the experience and expertise in managing mental health. These are extraordinary times—and some issues may need extraordinary measures.

Thank you and keep safe.

Read more >

Many around the world and in our country are experiencing the effects of this public health crisis. Economic experts are sounding a grim warning of how this pandemic can affect all businesses.

What can we do, as a small business, to counter the impact of this crisis on the economy? In this video, I explore how we can proactively respond to the impending effects of this crisis. My goal is to encourage everyone to start having this conversation today and begin finding answers to the question: How can a small business owner respond to the effects of this crisis and support each other in these uncertain times?

As of this video’s recording, there are hundreds of thousands of reported cases of COVID-19. Many health experts are comparing this crisis to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2003. At that time, Australia was not severely affected as we only had 6 reported cases and no fatalities. Many of us have not experienced a crisis of this scale in our lifetime, and we, as Australian businesses, are treading unchartered waters.

We’re feeling the impact of the coronavirus in the world economy, as many nations are closing or have closed their borders to mitigate contagion risks. Businesses have shut down by order of the government and hundreds of thousands of people are now unemployed seemingly overnight. Even if many of these businesses have shut down, quite a few of them have chosen to retain their presence online.

If your business is still trading, you still have the opportunity to adapt to the current environment. That, in turn, puts you in a position to prepare for recovery once this crisis is over. Just as it did in 2003 during the SARS crisis, this crisis will also pass. Your business just needs to be in a position to take advantage of that.

If this is the time to be proactive, what can we start doing today?

Communicate with your clients

Everyone is likely to be feeling the effects of this health crisis—some more than others. This is the best time to get in touch with your clients to see how they are faring today. Acknowledge that times are tough and empathise with their current situation.

Let them know what you are doing today to help mitigate or minimise the risks. For example, if you run a restaurant or any food-related business, show your customers how you are protecting your own staff and what new measures you’re putting in place to stop the spread of the virus. Show them how you are adapting to do home delivery and how you can assist those in isolation by preparing meals for them over the next two weeks. Give them options on how, by purchasing from you, can introduce a variety in their lives by providing food options.

Communicate to your clients if you need to limit your operations or if stock becomes low in supply. How can they get in touch with you? Did you change your operating hours? What services and products are you still offering? Reassure your customers by consistently and  constantly communicating, especially when there are changes that will affect them significantly.

Use technology, explore alternatives

They call this the age of social distancing. Social distancing means deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. A recommended space of a meter or more between individuals is recommended to stop the spread of the virus. This is the reason why, in many parts of the world, large events like concerts, conferences, and shows are being cancelled to discourage the mass gathering of people.

The current recommendation is to stay home and avoid crowds—to practice self-quarantine at home and socially distance yourself from others. This means not participating in face-to-face meetings or events.

If you need to meet with someone or work with a group of people, what can you do? It’s time to use technology and explore the alternatives. There’s always email. There’s also video conferencing applications for messaging and voice calls. If you have to call off a face-to-face meeting, you can set up a video conference call through Skype, Google Hangout, or Zoom. If in case you need to work from home, you can still track team tasks and projects virtually through productivity tools such as Monday, Asana, and Trello.

There are many apps available in the market today—some have free features, while other features are available at a fee. If you’ve always wanted to learn something new and explore these apps—now is the time to do so.

Here are some examples of what people are doing across the globe in response to the call for social distancing:

  • In some places like the United States, governments are partially shutting down restaurants to discourage people gathering in large groups in a single dining space. Restaurants are keeping their kitchens open by encouraging people to order for takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery.
  • Many international conferences have also been cancelled. Organisers are instead holding virtual conferences, where people can still participate by logging in online.
  • Many companies are encouraging staff to work from home and are using many communication and productivity apps that I have mentioned to catch up and keep track of progress.
  • The entertainment industry is one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus. Many concerts and music festivals have been called off. As an alternative, many artists have gone to social media, such as Instagram and Facebook to hold live virtual concerts.
  • Other professionals—chefs, marketing professionals—are offering free virtual workshops.

Necessity is the mother of invention. There is a need today to rethink traditional business models to fit the conditions of this crisis. Those who can adapt are in a better position to overcome the challenges. This is the time to get those creative juices going and to revisit your business plans. Who knows? Your creativity might lead you to a business model that will bring you and propel your business to growth after this crisis is over.

Explore what loans and benefits are being made available to you

The government has just announced a stimulus package for the Australian economy, which provides support for small businesses, amongst many others who will be or are already being affected by the pandemic. Contact your accountant and explore what is being made available to your company and how that would impact you directly.

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare

As business owners, we understand risks and that we should always be prepared for what is inevitable. Now is the time to think about what you should do for your business to survive. If what other people are doing is any indication of what we can do, there is a LOT that we can do today to prepare our business for the future.

I will share with you a series of questions that will likely take some time for you to think about. The answers that you come up with may be the answer that allows your business to survive and put you in a position for growth once this crisis is over.

  • What can I do now so that I can reach my customers and touch base with them?
  • What alternatives do I have so that I can continue to offer the products and services to my customers?
  • What do my customers need now?
  • Has the crisis developed new pain points for my customers?
  • What changes can I do today to support my customers’ needs and address their new pain points?

The last question is particularly important because this is how you strengthen your relationship with your customers in this time of need. For example, some grocery and supermarket chains in Australia have come up with special shopping hours to a niche market—in this case, a Senior-Only shopping hour to help older shoppers.

These are uncharted waters. We will possibly feel the economic effects of the coronavirus in the months to come. But I urge everyone to keep calm, stay safe, and focus on the things that you can change or control.

When this crisis is over, I anticipate that more business will be more open to using video conferencing and that it will be widely accepted as the main way of doing business than ever before. How will that affect your business? Let’s focus on what changes we can make and find ways to support one another.

Read more >

What are some of the unique and fun ways to recognise employees? In this video, I explore some of the more unconventional ways of rewarding them.

There is a consensus on the importance of rewarding or recognising employees who do exceptionally great work. The rationale is that if you reward them, they will be motivated to continue doing great work.

The contention on this belief arises when we talk about finding the right rewards. As business owners, we want to make sure that we are generous enough to make the employee feel appreciated but not too much for everyone to expect that all exceptional work should be rewarded, even if such is a regular call of duty. We also consider our financial ability to sustain such rewards. It can’t be too generous that it affects the bottom line. Ideally, it should be simple and easy to implement—and one that can be sustained for many years to come.

Best of all, we should be transparent and have firm guidelines on who is eligible for these rewards, so that everyone feels that they have a fair chance of being a recipient and that we are not playing any favourites.

Note, however, that not all policies or rewards that aim to motivate behaviour work as well as one plans it to be. In my video, How an employee reward system can curtail productivity, I explored how one well-meaning employee rewards policy led to a decline in productivity. The key is to understand that employees are best motivated when the rewards are aligned with their internal motivation, just as I discuss in my video How to motivate employees the right way.

I’ve worked with business owners who struggle to come up with the proper incentives to motivate their employees. They are usually too busy with the business to think clearly about how to reward exceptional behaviour. But what they fail to realise is that their employees are one of the reasons for their business’s success. Ignoring their contribution may lead to demotivation and to employees doing only the bare minimum. This, in turn, can impact the morale and productivity of the team.

Here are some simple employee rewards that I’ve discovered align with internal motivation and are simple to do:

  1. Kudos Board! Perhaps the simplest but one of the most effective recognition programs. Managers, team members or even clients can give feedback about someone they feel who did exceptional work. This can be published either in the organisation’s bulletin board or social media for everyone to see. It’s good because employees are publicly recognised, at the same time, it gives other employees concrete examples of exceptional work that they can model.
  2. Write a simple Thank You note. Sir Richard Branson has been known to do this. It is simple but heartfelt, and lets employees know that you notice their hard work. While it takes time to do and it may be difficult to write the note, this brings more value to your employee than any monetary value. And, it’s a cost-effective measure, too!
  3. Throw a pizza party! This is great especially when you are celebrating not just the achievement of one team member but the collective effort of an entire team. It’s a fun way to build team camaraderie, too!
  4. Give a special perk for a limited time, maybe a paid day off or the opportunity to park at the best spot for a few days. It’s a simple reward but note that selection criteria should be clear and transparent to prevent any indication that you are playing favourites!
  5. Dinner for the family on you! Large corporations have been known to provide this reward. This is to recognise that families also make sacrifices, especially when their family member has been working very hard on a project that has taken time away from them. It also makes an employee feel especially valued because rewards are extended to their family.
  6. Career-based rewards, such as sending employees to out-of-town training classes or even just online classes of their choice.

How about you? How to you recognise and reward your employees?

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >

Entrepreneurs like Simon Sinek and Sara Blakely have repeated said to begin with your WHY.

Do you know your why? In this video, I explore what determines our WHY and why knowing our purpose matters in your business.

What Simon Sinek and Sara Blakely are saying is that everyone should find and focus on their purpose because knowing your purpose is a necessary step to success. The German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche once said, “He who has a why can endure any how.”

For business owners, the key to being motivated, to pursuing goals, to growing, and to never giving up is to understand our purpose.  Why are we in business? Why are we doing what we do?

When things get tough, our WHY determines whether we push forward or do something different. When we approach a fork in the road, and we find ourselves having difficulty making a decision, our WHY guides are choice.

What determines our why?

Margie Warrell explains that four (4) factors determine our WHY or PURPOSE:

  • Talents.

What is it that do we do well naturally? Do you have the innate ability to understand a problem immediately and identify its root cause? Are you a natural problem solver? Are you a natural communicator? Are you innately creative and able to provide out-of-the-box solutions for complex problems?

  • Skills & Expertise.

While talent refers to something that comes naturally to you, skills and expertise are the results of your education, training, and experience. These are things you’ve learned in formal education and training, and things you’ve mastered through repeated tasks or through your work experience.

  • Values.

Values pertain to what is important to you. What are your principles? What do you hold important, or even sacred? Your values determine what you are willing and not willing to do to achieve something.

  • Passions.

What makes you come alive? What are your interests? What brings you joy?

The intersection of these four factors will give some indication on what your WHY is. Your talents, skills, and expertise will tell you what kind of product and/or service you can provide. Your values and your passions will determine how you define your business model, your organisational structure, and how you respond to different situations in your business.

What are the more common WHYs—what motivates many entrepreneurs?

  1. Money. Perhaps the most practical WHY. Many of us are in business to be able to afford a living. And many times, more than a living. Business owners are in business to provide a lifestyle for themselves and for their family.
  2. Independence. Because we want to work for ourselves—to make decisions for ourselves and have control over what we can offer. We also want our businesses to work for us—to have the option to “not” work and have the business work for us when we’re not working in it.
  3. Lifestyle. While this why might be construed as an intersection between money and independence, I think that it is also important to point out that many of us enjoy the kind of lifestyle that being in a business provides. Having a business provides us and our families the resources and opportunities that could be challenging to do as an employee. These opportunities may include opportunities of working with certain people or privileges to do certain things, like traveling or being able to have the flexibility to be with family, that is not always as easy to do if you work 9-to-5 as an employee.
  4. Creativity. Many of us love the idea of being able to create or build something, and having a business allows us to explore our creativity.
  5. Legacy. Some people plant trees, others write a book. Entrepreneurs build businesses that they can pass on to their children and grandchildren—or a service or product that can benefit many people.
  6. Leadership. Are you a natural leader who loves motivating teams and getting them to perform at their peak? Having the opportunity to lead and motivate people is an important why for many entrepreneurs and business owners.
  7. Challenge. Some people enter competitive markets, and some people like blazing the trail and disrupting the status quo to provide better products and better solutions.

Why is UNDERSTANDING your WHY important to your business?

The short of it is because it answers a lot of questions.

If you know and understand that MONEY is your primary motivation, then this will help you determine whether your business plan, your business model, and your sales and marketing strategies are all aligned to help you make money. It will help determine whether you need to expand, develop a new product, or even downsize.

If INDEPENDENCE is your motivation, then you would be particular about how your business is structured. Will you take on a partner? If you do need a partner, which areas of the business will they be taking over, or how much say will they have in decision-making?

Or, if leaving a LEGACY is important to you, then thinking about and planning for the long-term is at the core of all of your decisions.

With these examples, it becomes clearer why we need to know and understand our WHY—and why it should matter to us. Our WHY is what we hold on to during those difficult days when we need to make important decisions, or what drives up to get out of bed each morning even when we do not feel as excited or driven—and most especially when we feel lost and confused about what to do.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >

In this video, I explore the characteristics that make a team successful and high-performing and discuss how your team can build one.

Who are empowered employees?

Empowered employees are your employees who know what they are supposed to do and what they are accountable for. More importantly, they are the ones who take the time to understand problems and their root causes, find solutions to these problems, and find ways to improve processes to make things work easier and more seamlessly. The best part about empowered employees is that they do all of these things without needing to be told—they work on developing solutions almost instinctively.

Empowered employees are motivated to go to work every day. They do not just do what is expected of them, but also the things that are needed to be done for the good of your business and your organisation in the long run.

Why do we want empowered employees?

Having empowered employees mean that you have your entire team making it their business to delight your customers and to improve business. Working with them means working with a team who cares about your customers and your business. They work together, carry out their responsibilities, resolve problems for the greater good of your business, and, most importantly, without needing your intervention.

This sounds like a very ideal situation—but it can be done!

How do you empower employees?

To understand what motivates and empowers an employee is to understand the importance of trust. An empowered employee trusts in the belief that what he or she does is important and meaningful—that it is important to him/herself, to the people he/she is working with, and to the organisation he/she is working for.

An empowered employee also trusts that his/her team and organisation as a whole is looking out for him/her—just as he/she is looking after the team and the organisation. An empowered employee is equipped with the necessary skills and tools to carry out what is expected of him to do, and that the team and the organisation trusts him well enough to know how to use these skills and tools to deliver exceptional service.

The goal then is to build trust. How do you do this?

  1. Hire the right people with the right attitude. Depending on the kind of industry you work in, you hire people who have the right disposition for the job. If your business requires that your team provide technical support to your clients, then you probably want team members who are patient and can remain calm to address problems and provide quick solutions.
  • Train for the skills and the tasks at hand—this includes formal training, mentoring, or even shadowing.

In a previous video, I shared a simple guide on how small businesses can train employees.

  • Make sure that everyone is clear about and understands the organisation’s goals, what their roles are, and what they need to do to achieve these goals.

In Disney, for example, Cast Members (that’s Disney language to mean Disney employees) go through rigorous training to ensure that everyone understands Disney’s main goal and know how each Cast Member can do to achieve this.

  • Nothing proves that you trust your employees more than allowing them to take over their roles and own it. That means cutting micro-managing tendencies and allowing them leeway to solve problems and achieve goals the way they see fit—of course, within reason.

The main challenge is allowing them to make mistakes on your time. But this leads to learning from their mistakes and learning how to make things better.

Do you think that you have empowered employees in your small business? Would you like to share how you empower them? If you have a story to tell, please send me an email and let’s chat.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >