Monday, February 24, 2014

How Networking can pave the road to improved results.

Having a network of business peers and associates can be invaluable in resolving business issues, sharing relationships and helping each other in a group.

Network opportunities can provide:

  • A setting to meet new contacts in a casual, less business, more social environment.
  • A way to volunteer in organizations and gain visibility while giving back to those who may help you.
  • Ways to meet people across different business streams that may have resources that can help you achieve your own goals.
  • An opportunity in group discussions to pose open ended questions that can provide additional information you seek and stimulate responses that show your interest in the group.
  • An opportunity for you to be a discussion leader and that adds respect for you and a chance to be perceived as a leader.

If you extend efforts to become more involved with a variety of networks there can be a significant payoff in terms of support you achieve in developing your new business opportunities and contributions you can make to others without jeopardizing your own business goals.

Look for groups to join that can expand your knowledge base and your business. Take no opportunity to network lightly – strive for excellence.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cost Savings = Cash Flow

All business owners should constantly look for ways to reduce costs in order to improve cash flow in the business. Cash conservation allows you to generate reserves that can be used for unexpected emergencies.

Here are a few thoughts to consider for improving cash flow:

1. Lease equipment.
This avoids the upfront costs when there is a need to purchase equipment. Leasing agreements sometimes include maintenance so you will reduce costs repairing and maintaining older equipment.

2. Review banking.
Watch for creeping bank fee increases. Meet with your bank manager and work to reduce monthly service fees and interest on operating lines. This can save a significant amount monthly.

3. Go Paperless.
Make the effort to reduce paper within your own operation by converting documents to e-copies. This will reduce storage and handling costs. Also offer customers electronic invoices and save the cost of printing and mailing to your customers.

4. Collect cash in advance.
If you offer credit terms, try collecting part of payment in cash up front. This not only improves cash flow but reduces risk on any receivable.

5. Review operations.
In place of staff reductions, consider eliminating unnecessary tasks or product content. Functions should add value that customers are willing to pay for. If the value cannot be measured it cannot be managed. Cut out waste and preserve cash.

These are a few suggestions for saving money that can be put in place and provide benefits of improved cash flow.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Need to Improve Management Skills?

Perhaps it is time to review your management skills with the view to improving overall operations of the business.

Here are a few thoughts on fundamentals to review:

1. Be open to new ideas.
The best managers are flexible and welcome new opportunities. Be a good listener because many of the best ideas for operational improvements come from employees closest to the work.

2. Preach excellence.
Set goals high but not unattainable and expect employees to meet them. At the same time demand excellence from yourself and staff will be more likely to stretch to meet important goals.

3. Communicate clearly.
With the setting of high standards, ensure employees’ job objectives clearly reflect them. You will be rewarded with well-conceived, measurable employee objectives.

4. Focus on time management.
Time is an underrated but critical management asset. Mangers are frequently interrupted to put out fires. The most successful managers protect their schedules and time carefully and prioritize, delegate, and spend their time thinking carefully of the key issues.

5. Deal with conflict.
Conflict in an organization is inevitable. There are no shortage of interpersonal issues, compensation, recognition, cost-cutting, and other day to day problems to handle. Tempting as it may be to ignore any issue the best managers are not “conflict –avoiders” but deal with issues quickly and fairly. Employees respect managers who confront difficult situations and work to resolve problems.

Managing is at times complex but the development of fundamentals can provide the foundation on which to build daily operations.

These are a few thoughts. Please let me know what you think:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

How do you manage your time?

Do you feel the need to be more organized and/or more productive? Do you spend your day in a frenzy of activity and then wonder why you haven't accomplished much?
Time management skills are especially important in small business where owners often handle many responsibilities.
Here are a few tips to increase productivity and to stay calm and cool throughout the day.

1. Time management myth?
No matter how organized you are there are only 24 hours every day. Focus on managing yourself and what you do with that time.

2. Time wasters.
It is easy to be side tracked and waste time “surfing the net”, reading emails, making personal calls. Track your personal time so you can see where the focus of efforts are and how to improve time usage.

3. Plan.
Develop a plan to focus on changing behavior not changing time. Start with eliminating personal time wasters like taking personal phone calls at work. This will help improve productivity and reduce stress.

4.  Prioritize.
Start the day with prioritizing tasks and benchmarking performance. If you have a list of 20 items, how many must be done that day?

5. Delegate.
Every effort should be made to have others share the work load. A review of activity will help determine what can be delegated or outsourced and allow you to focus on priorities.

Remember, time is one of the resources business owners have that is scarce, cannot be replaced once spent, and it cannot be borrowed or purchased. Manage it judiciously.