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April Newsletter

"It's not what you CAN do, but what you WILL do that makes the difference in your life."
~Keith J. Cunningham

Hello,

A quarter of the year has already passed so now is the perfect time to take stock of the progress you have made so far this year, make any adjustments that may be needed and plan for the remaining nine months of 2014.

So how has your year been so far? What successes have you achieved? What challenges have you overcome and what challenges are you still facing? Are you on target to achieve your goals for the year? If not, what to you need to change to achieve them? If you are already ahead how do your targets need to change now?

To help give you a push in the right direction I am sharing here some key steps successful business owners apply consistently to stay ahead of their goals:

1. Review progress – Take a look at your quarterly management accounts, specifically current performance against target and performance of last year.
2. Measure more than just financials - What other objectives did you have for the year, and how have you been performing against these?
3. Strategic focus – Is your strategy still correct? Have there been any changes in the market place, new competitors, new products? Do you need to change your focus to keep up?
4. How are your competitors doing? - Take a look at what your competitors are up to and make sure you stay ahead of them.
5. Are your systems working? - Could you improve your productivity by improving your systems?
6. Are your customers happy? - Ask them. Gather feedback from your customers and clients to find out how you can be doing things better. Make sure you respond to any suggestions or criticisms and take action to improve.
7. Plan for the future – Once you have done all of the above, update your plan for the year based on the results, ensuring your strategy will help you to achieve your overall goals.

For help staying on track and achieving your business goals, join me at my next FREE workshop on 8th May at the Holiday Inn Express, Colchester. Please see below for more detail or visit here to book.

Best regards

Joanne


Systemising Your Business
by Steve Sims IT Positive Limited


Systemising your business is a big task and despite it being essential if you are serious about your business, so many of us never have time, or don't make time, to get round to it. You need to pull back and work on your business rather than in it, and systemising will help you to do that. It will save you time, and money and will probably reduce the amount of staff you need. It is the single biggest thing you can do to claim back some time from your business, as well as improve the morale of the staff, and increase profit and efficiency.

Systemising parts of your business just means that rather than have to think about what to do every time a repetitive situation occurs, you can decide the best course of action to take in advance. This allows you the freedom to pass the task on, knowing that it will be done consistently and effectively.

The best way to systemise an area of your business is to start with the basics. Write a list of all the things you do, and how you do them. For instance, if you are looking to systemise the process for initial customer contact you should look at all the things you do, or want to do, on initial customer contact. For example, you might want to follow them on Twitter, like their company Facebook page, send them a networking request – all a week apart. You would create the system, write it down, automate as much as you can through your content management system (database), and disseminate the information to the relevant people so they know what is expected. You would then design a report so that you can see at a glance that your new procedure is being followed.

One of the best tools to help with systemisation is a good quality CRM (Customer relationship management) system. This will store your client database and is an essential part of any good business. Many modern CRM systems allow you to start automating tasks. You can relax in the knowledge that the tasks are created and deployed to the correct staff, at the correct time and that nothing falls through the cracks.

Remember that systemising is not just about working out what you do now. It also pulls into focus what you should be doing and helps you to define a standard going forward. You can analyse what you want to happen from now and write the procedure to reinforce that behaviour. After all it is easier to start systemising before all your staff develop habits and their own way of doing things. It is much easier to bring them into a role that is already systemised!

Part of the ethos is to ensure the smooth running of the company, no matter what happens. If you are a small business with a handful of staff you probably think that if anyone is off sick or leaves the company then you could pick up their job and do it better than them. But the truth is, if they have been with you for any length of time, they have their own way of doing things and you may not, in reality, know where to start. If you have staff, get them to help you systemise their own roles rather than guessing.

Just remember, systems and automation will save you money, time and effort. If everyone knows what is expected of them, and understands what everyone’s job is, then tasks do not get lost or duplicated making your business significantly more efficient.

Steve Sims Technical director of IT Positive Ltd
www.it-positive.co.uk


Visit us at Colchester Means Business

Do you want to do more business locally? If so why not join me and the rest of my networking group, Pivotal Colchester, at the Colchester Means Business Exhibition on 14th May at Charter Hall, Colchester. The event has been designed to allow local businesses to build new contacts, network and compare products and services. I will be there representing Dolphin Business Strategies and my service for small business owners, The Business Growth Academy.

Why not pop along to the event and see the array of support, services and products available to small business owners in East Anglia?


Make time for delegation

As business owners we are often guilty of getting so busy doing the day-to-day tasks that we don't always have the time to keep growing our business, planning for the future or simply enjoy the benefits of working for yourself. If you have reached a stage where you have no time to do anything other than fulfil customer orders or projects for clients it might be time to hand over some tasks to an employee or an outside provider.

If this describes where you are right now what can you do to address the situation? Use my six step formula for delegation to enable you to free up some of your time to focus on your customers:

Step 1 – keep a timesheet – keep track of what you are working on and how long each task is taking you. This is the single most impactful tool used by one business owner on our growth programme to highlight where they were blocking their own growth. Until you know where your time goes you cannot manage it.

Step 2 - review roles and tasks - are there any tasks that are completely unnecessary? Perhaps some can be put altogether or can be handled by someone else to free up your time? List everything that gets done in your business and put a charge out rate next to each task based on its value to the business.

Step 3 - delegate – once you have created your task list look at what can be delegated and pass over any tasks that it is not essential for you to complete.

Step 4 - train – allow time to train up the people you get on-board to help you to ensure they are working effectively and efficiently.

Step 5 - measure results – set some criteria and make sure you evaluate regularly to make sure you and your team are achieving the standards needed to please customers.

Step 6 - review and flex – Repeat this process regularly. Can tasks be moved around, do you need extra support? Be prepared to be flexible.


STOP THE PRESS: Join us for our FREE, invitation only workshop – Grow your business in 2014

Where: Holiday Inn Express, Colchester
When: 8th May 2014

Following the success of our last event, we are running an invitation only workshop aimed at helping people to grow their business in 2014. The event is limited to just ten spaces to ensure you and your business gets bespoke and 1:1 advice and information. Join other SMEs from Essex and Suffolk at this intimate event to:

For 15 years I've been working with business owners, just like you, who have consistently out-performed their competition and grown, even in the tough climate of the past five years. In just six months one business owner has DOUBLED their sales orders and their average order value has also INCREASED thanks to working with me.

To book click here
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