5 Admin Mistakes That Cost Your Business Time

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Business administration is an essential function at the core of a company. It’s a complex process that includes the organization or resources – equipment, people, money, and premises – and the management of all business operations and decisions towards common goals – which have been defined in your strategy. For a lot of new entrepreneurs, business admin can either refer to the bureaucratic side of sides or the operational performance of all tasks. But what most newcomers to the business world fail to understand is that the administration of a business is the combination of bureaucracy and operations. To put it simply, your admin is what keeps your business running, both in the eyes of the law but also for your team. For a newly formed company, getting things right can take a lot of time; however, if you have sufficient budget and resources, you can afford the learning curve delay. For a solo entrepreneur, however, time is at the essence, and failing to understand your administrative responsibilities could affect your growth dramatically.

You don’t know how to choose your tools

Every business needs equipment, whether your team works with heavy machinery or with digital tools. More often than not, industry sectors that rely on engineering machines and large equipment have detailed guidelines to support new entrepreneurs in their investment choices. However, office-based companies don’t receive such support and often end up in a tricky position to figure out which of the many software tools available are the best suited to their activities and processes. Working with the right tools can save you tremendous amounts of time and money. However, it can be difficult to spot inadequate tools without running comparative performance tests – which is something you can do if you ask to run a handful of tools on a simultaneous trial. 

You don’t know how to manage team duties

Finding the best applicant for the team is a long and involving process. Team recruitment and management are vital factors in your growth. However, if you don’t have any automated HR and payroll solution in place, you’re likely to struggle to keep track of your team duties. Small businesses that grow to hire their first employees tend to misinterpret the importance of HR software tools, as it’s a solution that isn’t suitable for a one-person business. Unfortunately, you can’t rely on manual processes at the end of the month to manage wages, sick days, and holidays. Indeed, it is a time-consuming operation where the smallest mistake can have dramatic consequences.

You don’t know who supports your business

Investors only support big companies, right? Wrong! Small businesses, solo entrepreneurs, and startups can develop a practical approach to fundraising. It is a mistake to assume that you need to get big to get the capital you need. Indeed, there are countless online fundraising platforms from Kickstarter to AngelList can that introduce startups to a peer-to-peer community. After all, nobody said that finding an investor is all about relying on one funder! Crowdfunding strategies let your target a broad audience. Additionally pitching events also welcome new businesses. Investors are keen to discover the successful company of tomorrow; in short, don’t be afraid to pitch your idea even if you’re small! 

You don’t know how to pick an office

Too many new entrepreneurs hit a brick wall when they try to find the best office space for their company. Busy city locations are often too expensive for SMEs and startups. On the other hand, while semi-rural premises are a bargain, they can be difficult to access for employees who don’t have a personal vehicle. But, it’s time to embrace the 21-st century business environment by asking yourself one crucial question: Do you need an office space? Indeed virtual offices are not only a popular and cost-effective solution, but they also allow businesses to choose the best talent for their team, regardless of location. 

You don’t know about business structure

Most entrepreneurs spend a lot of time defining their business idea and market strategy. But when it comes to figuring out what is the best legal structure for their business, new entrepreneurs are not aware of the different options. However, your legal structure can affect your management style, your tax duties, your financial choices, and your market positioning. If you are unsure which of the 3 legal business forms – sole proprietorship, general partnership, and corporation – is the most suitable for your project, you should seek professional advice. Making the wrong decision can be devastating. 

There are a lot of administrative questions aspiring business owners need to answer. Unfortunately, more often than not, enthusiastic entrepreneurs can get confused about their admin processes and waste a lot of time and money with ill-fitting solutions. There is no way around it: If you’re going to launch a business, you need to surround yourself with professional advisors.

What Your Business Should Know Before Digitizing

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It’s easier than ever to run a successful business thanks to technology. With the right equipment, a startup can open up to new markets and expand way past the barriers of the local community. However, there is a catch – digitization is essential to broadening the horizons of your company. Why? It’s because it helps you serve the needs of a global economy.

Integrating new technologies and getting the most out of them is tricky, and it isn’t as simple as clicking your fingers. To do it, you need to understand the basics first, and this post has you covered. Here are four things to keep in mind before you digitize.

How Would You Start Now?

The main question to answer is how you would kick off your business in the 21st-century. With the tech available, it’s evident that you’d invest in the best systems and use Big Data to analyze trends and make informed decisions. Still, if you’ve already started and older systems are in place, it’s difficult to take the plunge. Your company’s phone system is a good example. The old one works and is effective enough, but it isn’t as efficient or cost-effective as the Cloud PBX version. The same goes for accounting software and bookkeeping practices. Although it’s a lot of effort, it’s worth the upheaval.

Don’t Write Off Tech

Technology has a massive part to play in your success. However, it’s not only the things you adopt that are important; it’s the stuff you dismiss. Think of how different the world would be if Apple weren’t allowed to design and target a niche within the electrical industry. By ignoring tech releases and how they can impact you or your competitors, you can miss out on opportunities. Even worse, you can leave the door open for others to absorb your market share.

Be Analytical

Understanding how digital tools are essential to your company is the key, and the best way to do it is to look to the competition for guidance. How are they using tech? What are they doing differently? Answering these questions will help you to understand your strengths and weaknesses and how you can improve. Mainly focus on the flaws because they are holding the company back and preventing it from growing. Of course, it’s vital to be able to read the stats and find the answers. They’re in the KPIs as long as you speak the language.

Integrate I.T

The internet is the single, biggest tool at your disposal, which is why it shouldn’t be segregated from the rest of the company. Using I.T as a problem-solving device when things go wrong is narrow-minded. Instead, integrate it throughout the whole of the business, from accounting to marketing and web hosting to get the greatest results. If everything is compartmentalized, the room for growth is bound to be less as there will be restrictions. And, they’re unnecessary.

If you are in doubt, there are professionals that will offer their services.

Designing Your Office with Productivity in Mind

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When you run a business, you may be more concerned about finding an office space you can afford and filling it with furniture and that is practical, than with the design of the place, but that may be a mistake. Why? Because there is growing evidence to suggest that the design of the office can help or hinder productivity.

Obviously, every business wants to be as productive as possible because it is this that will help the business thrive, and that is why you may need to take a closer look at your office design… 

Allow for Movement

If you want your employees to be more productive at work, don’t limit their ability to move around the space too much. Being able to walk around for a few minutes helps tired, stressed employees to refresh and come back to their work ready to tackle anything.

You may even want to think about installing stand-to-sit desks so that they can switch positions while working, feel more comfortable and thus get more done.

Install Security Cameras

Security cameras, whether they be analog cameras or digital devices, are not only important for keeping your place of business safe and secure, but they can also be used to boost productivity when used inside the office. They show employees that you are keeping an eye on them and that means they are more likely to get on and do their stuff.

Place a Few Plants

Plants aren’t just decorative – they can have a very real effect on our mind and our wellbeing. Numerous studies have shown that being surrounded by nature, including plants, helps to keep stress at bay and boost productivity by at least 15 percent. Being surrounded by plants in the office can also help to boost employee satisfaction levels and engagement. The more plants you have around the better.

Build a Gadget Cubby

It’s perhaps not surprising that a study conducted by OfficeTeam found that the average office employee spends as much as five hours every week using their mobile phone for non-work-related tasks. A good way to get around this is by building a gadget cubby where all non-work devices must live during non-working hours, excluding the lunch hour, of course.

Keep It Clutter-Free

If your office space is packed to the brim with shelving units, papers, and other general office debris, it might be time to channel Marie Kondo and get rid of anything that isn’t necessary or beautiful. Why? Because cluttered space can be too stimulating in all of the wrong ways. It can distract employees from the task at hand and see their productivity drop.The same is true of an unclean office space, so take some pride and make it as clean and clear as you possibly can.

Make it Personal

Allowing your employees to personalize their space can help them to feel happier and more connected, which can, in turn, improve their productivity. A few personal pictures of ornaments won’t hurt, so as long as they’re sensible, give your employees free rein.

The right space can totally transform the quality of your business!

The Pros And Cons Of Working From Home

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These days, there are some big changes being made in the world of work. A lot of companies, especially modern startups are now turning their backs on the traditional nine-to-five working day. Lots of firms now let their workers work from home at least one day a week as they find that it can help them boost their motivation and productivity. Not only that, though, but some companies are also starting to offer flexible working hours to allow their staff to work parts of their days at home.

Do you think that this sounds like your preferred way to work? As most companies are now open to giving their staff more flexibility, your employer might let you if you ask them. Here are the pros and cons that you will need to weigh up to make sure you make the right decision for you.

Pros

  • You Won’t Have To Deal With A Commute Again. One of the main things that people hate about their job is the commute to and from their office. Most people will live about a thirty-minute drive away, and they will have to sit in long rush-hour  traffic jams which can really increase their commuting time. Plus, trains and buses are often extremely busy during the rush hour. Thankfully, you won’t have to deal with that on the days you work from home.
  • It’s Great For Those With Disabilities Or Long-Term Conditions. Some people who have long-term health conditions might struggle getting to the office every day. Working from their own home will be their perfect solution. Plus, it means they won’t have to worry about going to their doctor or physiotherapy appointments as they can fit them around their own schedule at home.

Cons

  • It Can Be Isolating. Of course, when you are working from your own home you won’t have any colleagues around you. Even if you do chat to them regularly over email or Slack, you could still find this to be fairly isolating. In order to combat this, some people spend part of their days working from a co-working space or their local coffeeshop.
  • It Can Be Hard To Know When To Stop. Some people find that when they work from home, it can be very difficult knowing when to call it quits for the day. They simply keep on working through the evening to try and get as much done as possible. Obviously, this isn’t going to do your wellbeing any good as you will need to take a rest and ensure you get plenty of sleep.
  • Some Find It’s Too Easy To Procrastinate. A lot of people also find that it can be very tempting to procrastinate at home. After all, there will certainly be a lot more distractions compared to in the office!

So, what do you think about working from home now that you have seen some of the pros and cons? You will have to think long and hard before deciding whether this is the best way for you to work.

What’s Your Protocol On IT Errors That Stop Work?

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The one thing you cannot predict in business is an IT error. You can train your employees to be the best they can be, you can invest in your logistical structure, you can invest in your storage capabilities, you can do pretty much everything in the world; except know when your IT systems will go down. It’s just the bane of businesses all around the world because no matter how advanced technology gets, it’s still a man made invention. Things we make will always hiccup, breakdown and cause us a severe headache at work. However you need to have some kind of protocol in place for when this happens. There are three stages to this which you need to implement in your own business and train employees to follow.

Is it genuine?

Let’s be honest, even though you have hired some great professionals they won’t all be tech savvy. Many employees will just go by what you tell them and how you have trained them. They aren’t tech specialists and they don’t know every error code in the book. So they could have a problem which is easily fixable even though to them it might look serious to them. Hence why you need to give the responsibility of checking out minor errors to your managers. Managers aren’t just there to count the take of the day, they’re there to give advice, encouragement and also help out with problems that stop the flow of work. Train your managers on how to fix certain minor issues that your software runs into and make sure they are trained to a higher standard that normal employees.

React as a team

When an IT error occurs to one workstation, that employee is no longer able to work at their full capacity. However that could also mean his or her team are unable to continue with their work as they are relying on that individual to complete a task. For example, if an employee is not able to design the logo of a company in your marketing department, fellow employees won’t be able to work on the other aspects such as an advertisement, billboard, pamphlet and social media. So everyone needs to react as a team. The other employees need to talk and agree on the various stages of their own tasks they can complete without the logo or whatever is missing. To this extent, it keeps the ball rolling and allows everyone to carry on working throughout the day.

Specialist help desk

Every business needs to have some kind of specialist help on hand. For  your IT managed services, a company like IntelligIS offers 24/7 monitoring of your IT systems. So, they will know about the error maybe before you do. They can then work quickly to find the source, fix whatever is wrong, strengthen the firewalls and then give you a report of what just happened. This is your final step in the three stage protocol.

IT errors are the bane of the business world. For no apparent reason, entire systems can go down without warning. The key is to figure out if it’s a minor or major issue, then quickly react as a team to keep the workflow going and finally, call a specialist to identify and fix the error.

3 Essentials Every Member Of Your Business’ Field Team Needs

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Field businesses involve a central company that then allocates agents to specific on-site jobs; for example, a plumbing business may have a number of different plumbers working on-site with a number of different customers at once. If you run such a business, or hope to in the future, here are three essentials you’ll need to ensure your agents are equipped with… 

#1 – A dedicated GPS 

Smartphones are able to provide good GPS services to a degree, but to ensure your field agents are always able to get where they need to be, opt for dedicated GPS units. These units tend to offer more in-depth detail (such as which lane to take, rather than just a general “go forward”) that can help your agents to move between jobs as quickly as possible. 

#2 – Mobile Wi-Fi 

Most field agents will need an internet connection to complete various aspects of their work, such as updating the field management software you use, issuing invoices, or simply communicating with you directly via email. Due to this, ensuring that every agent has access to 4G Wi-Fi via a mobile hotspot, or a prepaid, generous data plan on their company-issued smartphone, is strongly advised. 

#3 – A reliable payment processor 

Processing payments in the field can save a huge amount of time for everyone; the agent, the central business, and the customer. There are a variety of different options on the market, with Square one of the most reputable and best known. The infographic below explains Square in more detail, as well as the benefits you could look forward to if you decide to give it a try with your own agents…


Infographic Design By University of Alabama Birmingham

Work Fast, But Work Right! Streamlining Your Business Effectively

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Whether you feel like you are behind the times, or you are struggling to make sense of where you’re going wrong, every business can benefit from streamlining. But as a method of working smarter rather than harder, streamlining your business in a productive manner can be difficult because of the tasks you have ahead of you. You may find that you’re spinning so many plates that you’re not able to actively approach the task of streamlining your company. So what are the best ways to do this? 

Finding The Right Tools

The right tools can be invaluable. The big difficulty is in finding the right ones. It all depends on what the major issues are in your business. If you are struggling to keep a lid on the more technical approaches, you could use diverse tools like investment management software, organizational tools to keep everything structured, or it could just be a case of ensuring you’ve got a various smorgasbord of tools to realize your business plan. As so many businesses need a diverse roster of tools to keep track of everything, if you don’t have anything in place and you’re doing it in a more analog method, it’s time to make the upgrade.

Outsourcing The Pressing Tasks

As we begin to see what the most pressing tasks are, we’ve then got to analyze whether we have the abilities to do it in-house. As such, we have to think about outsourcing these components because it will make the completion of the task easier, and, quite possibly, for a fraction of the budget. If we outsource the pricing tasks, we are able to get the task completed, but also realize where we are failing. It’s as much about analyzing our weaknesses as much as our strengths. And when we start to see the bigger picture and there are a couple of issues, either relating to the technological aspects, or the fact that there isn’t an adequate filing system in place, we can easily outsource to IT specialists or administrative contractors to do the number crunching.

Working Smarter Instead Of Harder

Streamlining is all about mindset. If we look at a task and view it as a collection of processes, we are unnecessarily creating more work for ourselves. If we employ the mindset that we should work smarter instead of harder, this gives us the ability to problem-solve in a more productive manner. Rather than be able to do the task as it is, if we can analyze the least number of steps to completion, but employ this as part of the business approach, we are able to integrate this with better efficacy. 

It can take a while to find out where we are falling behind. When we think about our processes that need streamlining, we have still got to do it in a productive manner. Tools can definitely help you, as can outsourcing, but ultimately, it is the mindset of improvement and development that will provide you with the impetus to find the quickest steps to completing a task. At the same time, we need to work fast, but we need to work right.

Getting Your Customer Service In Good Order

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A bad review can put a lot of people off make future purchases. Consumers are quick to believe a bad review over a good review – and sometimes with good reason. The age of the influencer has meant that people are no longer sure if the glowing reviews of products are real – or paid for. And only with recent crackdowns has that become clear. 

In order to really thrive as a business, your customer service needs to be exceptional. And it doesn’t matter if you are selling soap from your kitchen, or running a multi-million pound/dollar establishment – you need to maintain the highest standard possible. 

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” –Sam Walton

Easy

You need to make it easy for people to get to you. You should have your customer service numbers easy to see on your website, and on from that – on all of your social media channels. People will often prefer to email or message you on social media. So you should have that set up ready for people to get in touch. 

Polite

When they reach your helpdesk of choice, they should be greeted with a respectful person. Often people who are getting in touch with customer services aren’t doing so because they are happy. So it can be hard to keep your cool unless you are well trained, like Single Point Global in providing these services. 

Even automated services should be polite in their responses. 

Prepared

You should be ready to have some angry people ask a lot of you to rectify smaller issues. It is up to you how you deal with these things. Typically make sure customer service operatives are authorized to give discounts, arrange returns and elevate the issues where required. 

The more power that your operatives have, the less likely you will find a more significant complaint on your hands. 

Encourage Feedback

You will not know if you are doing, or if you are doing badly unless you ask someone. They will be able to tell you where you can make improvements, if your delivery is too slow, where the issues are in your products. This will enable you to make changes and fix the issues. So while lousy feedback might feel like you are being attacked, actually it is really beneficial for you to be able to do something constructive with it. For example, if you hear consistently bad reviews about your current choice courier – you can then simply swap and see if that improves the situation.  

They’re Not ALWAYS Right

Ideally, you will have happy customers who are raving about your goods, but occasionally you and your staff will be tested. There will be a customer who will have an issue with you, your products, your ethos and more. And, nothing you say or do will help rectify the situation. It is essential to know that, nor you or your customers are always right.

4 Hiring Mistakes That New Business Owners Make

Hiring the right employees is key to business success in any industry. It doesn’t matter if you’re a great entrepreneur, you can’t run a successful business all on your own and without a good team behind, you’re really going to struggle. As a boss, it’s important that you know how to motivate your team and help them to develop their skills so you can get the best out of them. A good employer knows how to unlock the hidden potential in their employees, but they also know how to spot that potential in the first place. While it is important that you know how to develop your employees and get the best out of them, it’s equally important that you know how to hire the right people in the first place.

This is one of the biggest challenges that new business owners face because they don’t realize just how difficult it is. They assume that it’s a case of looking through the resumes to find the people with the best qualifications and experience and then interviewing them to see who they like best. In reality, there’s a lot more to it than that and there are a lot of things that you can get wrong along the way. If you’re going to hire the best possible people for your business, you need to make sure that you avoid these common mistakes. 

Hiring Without A Reason 

Whenever you hire an employee, you should have a reason for doing so. If you don’t have a reason, you’re likely to hire somebody that doesn’t really add much to the company and you’ll just be wasting your money. In some cases, there is a very clear cut reason for hiring somebody. If an employee leaves, for example, you’ll need to hire a replacement. However, if you’re expanding your team, it’s important that you are doing it for the right reasons. Whenever you hire a new employee, it should be to fill a skills gap of some kind in the company. For example, if your sales team are stretched because you’re seeing a lot of growth and they can’t keep up, you need to hire more employees in that department. If you have been handling digital marketing on your own but you aren’t seeing much engagement from potential customers, you should consider hiring a digital marketing specialist to handle it instead. In these situations, it is clear why you’re hiring an employee and what they will bring to the company. If you can’t clearly state what a new employee will add to your business, you probably don’t need to hire them. 

As well as thinking about why you’re hiring somebody, you need to consider the specifics of their position. What exactly will their duties be, which department will they work in, and who will they report to? Not considering these things beforehand can cause problems when they start working for you and there is not a clearly defined role for them. It’s also going to cause you problems when you’re advertising the job and writing the job description in the first place. If you don’t clearly outline exactly what the job entails and what experience is necessary, you’re going to get all sorts of candidates that aren’t really suited to the job and that means the hiring process will take you a lot longer. 

Not Having A Clear Hiring Process In Place 

Having a clear process for hiring employees is so important but a lot of smaller businesses don’t think that they really need one. You need to decide whether you want every candidate to submit a resume and cover letter, whether you’re going to conduct phone interviews first, and how many people you are going to invite to interview. If you are unsure about what your hiring process should look like, https://resources.workable.com/ has a good guide. Having this clear process in place benefits you in a few different ways. Firstly, it makes the whole process a lot smoother and it’s easier for you to keep track of all of the candidates and which stage of the process they’re at. Having the exact same process for all candidates also makes it a lot easier for you to compare them when it comes time to make a decision. If you’re measuring each candidate by different metrics, it makes it hard to work out which one is best suited to the job. 

Not Conducting Background Checks 

Background checks are an important part of the hiring process that a lot of new business owners decide to skip. In most cases, you’ll be absolutely fine but there is always the chance that a candidate may have a criminal past or may not be allowed to work legally in this country. It’s important that you find these things out early, otherwise, you may end up hiring somebody that could damage the country in some way. You can easily conduct background checks online through companies like Checkr (at https://checkr.com/) so there is no reason to skip this step in the hiring process. It’s best to do this early on so you don’t waste time interviewing candidates that you later decide that you don’t want to hire for whatever reason. If you do hire a candidate, only to find out that they are not a very effective employee and they’ve had a lot of trouble at previous companies, it may be difficult for you to get rid of them and you’ll be stuck paying an employee that you don’t really want to work for you. 

Not Considering Office Space

When you start expanding your team, you need to make sure that you’ve got enough room for everybody so your office needs to grow at the same time. Before you start bringing any new employees on board, ask yourself whether your office is fit for purpose and whether you have enough space for everybody to work effectively. If you don’t, you should focus on finding a bigger office before you think about expanding your team any further. 

If you’re making any of these common hiring mistakes, your team won’t be as effective as they should be and your business will suffer as a result.

Is Your Business Falling Behind?

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One of the best things about the modern world is just how easy it is to start your own business. In the past, you needed a lot of resources, not to mention capital, to even get started. However, the modern world all you really need to get things off the ground is a great idea, a computer, and the drive to turn your idea into something real. From there, everything grows outwards. However, the is a downside to this fact and that’s the reality that it also means that you will have a lot of competition. The modern business marketplace is incredibly crowded and being able to stand out means staying ahead of the game. With that in mind, here are some things that you need in order to avoid falling behind.

Innovation

Innovation has always been important in business but there is no time where it has been more important than right now. The truth is that thanks to modern developments in technology the sheer speed at which a lot of innovation happens is constantly increasing. This means that you have to be able to keep your finger on the pulse of everything from technology to working methods to social perspectives. It’s not just enough to keep up with the modern world, you have to be out in front of it whenever you can.

Efficiency

The pace of the modern world can be rather overwhelming for a lot of people and running a business is one of the easiest ways to bring that fact into stark focus. You simply can’t get away with doing things slowly if you want to run a business in the modern era. Because of that, you need to make sure that your business is as efficient as possible. Luckily there are companies like https://www.zenops.com/workflow-efficiency/ that can help you. They can offer you the kind of support and know-how that you need to make sure that your business’s levels of productivity are always as high as possible.    

Connection

One of the things that has had an incredibly significant impact on modern businesses is the rise of social media. It’s almost entirely altered the way that customers and businesses interact with one another. It’s no longer just about showing potential customers your business, you need to be able to actually connect with them on a personal level. Just look at many of the most popular corporate Twitter accounts. Many of them will advertise their products, sure, but they will also make the effort to joke with customers, respond to questions, and generally connect with their customers on a human level.

Of course, if you spend all of your time focusing on your competition then you’re likely to end up missing incredibly important parts of your business. If you’re spending all of your time trying to figure out how to get ahead of other businesses, you could well end up ignoring the things that make your business truly great and unique. The key to any great business, no matter the era, will always be a sense of balance.