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Some simple tips to help you improve your business in just one day

Business improvement is an ever-sought after goal for all business owners and managers as they seek to find ways to improve profits, productivity and customer experiences. Using the latest software or popular marketing techniques on social media can sometimes be the answer but often we can overlook the simple things.

There are so many small changes that can be made within the businesses operational procedures that can help to improve productivity, profits and customer experiences.

Get a fast start

Reduce the amount of time you take to settle in at the start of your day. Don’t spend any more than 15 minutes getting a coffee, reading or checking emails and messages because you are often at your freshest at the beginning of the day.

Have 2 to-do lists

Having 2 to-do lists helps you to stay on top of tasks. The first list should outline all of the most important tasks that you need to get done in the short, medium and long term. The second should be a list of things that you can realistically get done that day. This should cover all tasks that need to be completed for the day, not just the important ones.

Read

Reading is important and one of the most efficient ways of learning. Whether it is reading about your business, the industry or the economy make use of your reading time to actually learn. Set aside some reading time every day and look forward to it.

Prepare for your next day

Take some time at the end of every day to plan for tomorrow. Planning ahead gives you more time to think about the important things that need to be done and allows you to reflect on what wasn’t completed today. It also improves your efficiency when you arrive to work the next day.

Take breaks

Regular breaks are important to refresh your mind every hour or so. This helps to keep your work to a high standard and reduces the time spent aimlessly searching through the internet and avoiding work. Get out of your chair and have a walk around or get a coffee.

Be innovative

Constantly be thinking of new ways to improve the business and your own work. Are there new ways of doing this? Can we do this in a more efficient way? Am I getting the most out of this?

Work together

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and use your colleagues to bounce ideas off and review your work. This helps to get a broader perspective of ideas and improves the quality of your work.

Motivating your team through intangible experiences

Your team is how you get your work done, not through the miracle work of individuals. When you are leading a team, or even just participating in one, it is important that you find ways to make people want to work for you and strive towards a defined goal.

If everyone is working towards the same goal then it will be achieved with ease and to a high standard. Motivating your team and maintaining a positive and supportive workplace will help your business to achieve its goals.

Provide a pleasant work environment

The work environment is the first thing that any employee sees and feels when they come to work every day. Making this a welcoming and comforting environment is going to encourage them to work harder and actually want to as well.

Provide training

Constantly challenge your employees is a well-known way to keep them motivated. Enable them to develop new skills and better themselves so that they can move up in their career. A highly skilled and challenged team is a motivated team.

Encourage collaboration

If employees don’t feel valued then their motivation levels are going to fall. Regularly encourage feedback and input from all employees so that they feel valued. Understand those who are shyer and seek them out for ideas on improvement and feedback.

Don’t punish failure

Mistakes are at the heart of learning and if you can encourage employees to learn from their mistakes then it is going to be beneficial for the business and for them. Don’t punish them for making a mistake, facilitate ways for them to learn from them.

Set goals

If everyone has a clear goal to strive towards then motivation is a significantly smaller issue. Provide rewards for achieving goals whether it is the whole team or just an individual. A simple congratulation is often enough but team activities can also be a great reward and opportunity to form stronger relationships.

Allow flexibility

No employee likes a boss or colleague who micromanages and in today’s world a flexible working environment is becoming more and more common. Allow employees to work at a café for a few hours or have couches in the office where people can work.

Everyone has different ways of working so it is important to accommodate for these. If employees feel empowered and trusted then they are going to be more motivated to complete their work.

Leaders need to create a culture of learning and innovation

Industry leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk lead businesses that foster a culture of innovation and encourage employees to learn every day. Facebook and Tesla have all gained global success in their short lives but to continue to do so these leaders know that they must innovate.

Zuckerberg and Musk have all identified that the best way to facilitate growth and employee commitment is to encourage innovation, employee input and change so that they may stay interested and devoted to the business.

Their success can be narrowed down to four key strategies.

  1. Leading with passion

Mark Zuckerberg is always highlighting his passion for Facebook through regular interviews, news appearances and even through the rather unglamorous day to day work that he partakes in. Through regular Facebook posts Zuckerberg successfully communicates passion and excitement in his work and the upcoming events and features that his company are involved in and introducing, respectively.

This not only sets an example for his employees but it also instils confidence in them and shareholders who believe that he is committed to his business.

  1. Leading by example

A few months ago Elon Musk responded to a safety concern in one of the Tesla plants towards his employees. Typically, a new company policy would be issued in order to deal with that problem and it would never be heard about again.

However, Elon Musk, following a response to the safety issue, went further and asked that all and any safety issues that arise in the future be sent directly to his inbox. He also went to the factory to observe what life is like on the factory floors and gain an understanding of potential safety risks whilst also determining if there were any possibilities to improve procedures.

This highlights that Musk is committed to his employees and the business as a whole, not just his own wellbeing.

  1. Encourage employees to ask questions

Encouraging people to ask questions is what inspires growth and allows companies to develop, change, innovate and adapt to all situations. Challenging the status quo leads to new ideas and potentially revolutionary procedures. Maintaining a strong competitive edge is important and creating a culture of asking questions enables experimentation and innovation to continue to prosper.

  1. Empower employees to learn

Many businesses will say that they encourage their employees to learn but do not actively provide them with the time and resources to do so. Great leaders will give their employees the opportunity to learn through training and other resources. A great example is Google who enable their employees to spend 20% of their working week learning new skills. These new skills learnt are then able to be applied to company processes and innovation.

How to get out of a mental slump and gain from it

It’s no secret that everyone, at various points in time, suffers from a mental slump. These mental slumps can be hard to get out of and a real challenge to continue to push through and complete the tasks that lay ahead.

Being able to identify that you are experiencing a mental slump quickly and having the measures in place to overcome it is crucial. It is often challenging to try and solve the problem right then and there but there are a few things that can help to overcome it.

  1. Recognise there’s a problem

Denying that there is an issue with your mental state is going to cause more issues. Understand that you need to establish that there is a problem and begin to work through it.

  1. Get out of your chair

It is often the case that the mental slump has simply come about as a result of sitting down for too long and working on monotonous tasks. Take the time to get up out of your seat and have a walk around. Get coffee with a friend or at least get some fresh air to reset the mind.

  1. Change your routine

Whilst routine is good as it maintain order and sets out a clear set of tasks that need to be completed, mixing it up every now and then is important to get your mind fresh. It may be little things like getting off the train a bit earlier and walking a few blocks to work or going somewhere new for lunch.

Of course, in some cases it may be that you have been working in the same job for a long time and need a change of role. Whatever it is, changing your routine is a great way to keep your mind fresh and revitalised.

  1. Write out what you need to do

A mental slump can sometimes be the result of an apparent overwhelming list of tasks. Writing it down and realistically working through what can be done today may help to provide a clearer goal and reduce any stress.

  1. Know it will improve

Sometimes your mental slump can simply come about as a result of sustained periods of work or something that you feel just isn’t going your way. Pushing through it that day and sleeping on it will help your mind to reset. Coming in the next day with a positive outlook and fresh mind is likely to reenergise your work.

Goal setting tips to make your year a success

Setting goals can often be a hugely underestimated part of work. Setting goals helps us to strive towards a known target, be it big or small, and feel a sense of achievement once we get there. They help benchmark your own performance and others within the business and provide a clear path to success.

When setting your own personal and divisional goals, you need to consider your own abilities and the abilities of those around you to maximise each and every persons output. There needs to be a level of cohesion within the group in striving towards the same goal and if no one believes it is achievable then this will be a monumental challenge.

Set simple goals that lead to success and where the benefits can be seen. Keep them short and don’t end up with a list of one hundred goals for the year. Below are a few tips to help you get the most out of your goal setting.

Reach out

No single person within an organisation has all the answers and working from the top down and the bottom up will help to gain a broader picture. Ask each team of division to provide collective feedback on potential business goals and what they believe they should be before making a decision.

Identify blind spots

Every organisation has blind spots, elements that have been overlooked in the past or may be leading the business in the wrong direction. Draw on all employees to help identify them so they can be removed and worked on.

There are many questions that should be asked and a review on previous goals, feedback loops and actions that may have impacted on results or outcomes.

Make goals relevant to one another

Every team, division and individual is going to have a range of goals for any given time period. What is important is that these goals are all relevant to the big picture – that is the organisational goals. All of the goals that are set should help to achieve the larger, longer term goals of the business.

Communicate

Once goals have been set and the boundaries outlined it is important that everyone within your team and/or division understands what the goals are so that they can help you and your team members to achieve them. Whilst some may be more personal, there should be plenty of business performance goals outlined and they need to be communicated so that everyone can draw on the help of others.

Engaging customers through your social media strategy

Not long ago having a website was simply enough to be able to reach, and reach effectively, your entire customer base. That notion has changed rapidly with the growth of social media with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram now all vital parts of any businesses marketing and branding campaigns.

Having an effective social media strategy can have immense benefits for your business due to its impressive reach and potential for sharing. Finding the right place to start can be difficult though so here are a few tips.

Use a publishing schedule

Sticking to a schedule is important so as not to miss any posts or end up posting at inefficient times. Google and Facebook are pretty good at providing data that outlines the best timed to post for a given audience. Utilise this to maximise your spending dollars.

Posting at the right times is going to boost customer engagement because they are online and they want to engage with your content. Customers generally want to engage with the content that they follow so make sure you get it up at the right time in order to build retention.

Be consistent

You want all of your social media content to be consistent so that it sounds like it is coming from the one company and isn’t just a rushed post. Voicing a consistent message ensures that your customers know exactly what you are conveying and can be clear of what they are going to get when they engage with the business.

This can be a challenge once you start to outsource your social media marketing across different areas but having clear guidelines and reviewing all posts is important. Clearly outlining who you are as a business and your values will help keep this message consistent.

Show some personality

You want your social media content to be interesting and eye-catching so showing a little bit of what the brand is should be disregarded. Each piece of content should be tailored towards the audience it is targeting and so should align with their values whilst maintaining the company culture.

Content is important

Whilst it is important to be regularly posting, you don’t want to post just for the sake of it. Make sure the content is engaging and relevant to the readers. Something that is going to help them in their personal or professional lives or something relevant to the industry needs to be included so that the content doesn’t appear replaceable or generalised.

Choose your platforms

Not every business needs to be on every social media platform. Depending on your target audience or audiences, select the relevant platforms that they engage with the most. Various platforms may target a different group and thus some content may not be relevant for all platforms either.

Crucial questions to ask a remote employee before hiring them

The hiring process is always a challenging one as it’s difficult to know if people really are right for the role. Hiring a remote employee throws in another variable in the fact that you don’t get to see them in your day to day work making it even harder to judge them in their early days.

A remote employee can be really beneficial for the business as it is proven that they tend to be happier and more productive. However, there are a few challenges associated that include the amount of work they are really doing and how it impacts on company culture.

It’s definitely a financial gain having someone work remotely but there are a few questions that should be asked to gain a better idea as to whether this remote employee is right for your business.

  1. Are you clear of the expectations of this role?

If the job description is vague it can be easy for people to pretend that they are doing a good job and what is asked of them. However, if it is more specific then they are more likely to be completing their tasks to a high standard and you can benchmark them.

Simply asking them will provide both parties with a clear understanding of expectations ultimately leading to success.

  1. What is motivating you?

A remote worker needs to be motivated by something. They are working on their own and do not have many things to deal with. There are so many distractions at home so having a motivated employee is important.

  1. Do you have experience in remote employment?

Those who have worked remotely before and have had success know what they are doing and should instil confidence. Those who haven’t may need to be watched with a greater level of scrutiny. Delve deep to find out if they have done it before and why they left their last job. You need to be certain will someone working remotely.

  1. Do you have a quiet working space?

As mentioned before, there can be so many distractions for those working from home so having a quiet space to work is imperative. It’s harder to work productively and if they have to make calls it sounds amateur if someone is working with lots of noises in the background. It may be necessary to aid the interviewee in affording an office space.

  1. How do you fare working alone?

You need to know that they are able to work alone but also have a strong social network to alleviate the loneliness that can build up. You want to know that they have strategies in place to deal with and reduce the loneliness of working remotely.

Building a strong user base for start-ups

One of the biggest challenges faced by start-ups is gaining a strong user base. With a new product or service you don’t want to miss any potential customers but it’s hard to convince them, convey understanding and gain appreciation to retain consumers.

Building a robust user-base is one of the keys to start-up success, but how do you do it?

Ensure you have a value-added and differentiated product

Your product needs to be different to those on the market but also add value to the user’s lives – both professional and personal. You should be pushing yourself to come up with a product that is much better than that already on the market so that consumers appreciate it.

Leverage technology

The experience of your users has become incredibly important and technology is able to help. Technologies such as the internet of things and artificial intelligence have enabled businesses to gain deeper and more regular interaction with customers through chat bots and personalised marketing.

A new business should be looking to maximise the use of these new technologies to get ahead in the market in regards to technology uptake.

Encourage and develop strong word-of-mouth

The word-of-mouth marketing idea has taken somewhat of a backseat in the new age of digital marketing but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still hold power. In fact, it may hold more power as a result. Find a marketing campaign that makes word of mouth marketing easy and encourage friends, families and employees to partake in it. The more people you get talking about your product the better.

Use a campus ambassador program

A campus ambassador program is an initiative by businesses to build strong brand equity across universities and colleges. The business will hire an outgoing student through a pre-placement offer to promote their brand around campus. If this is done correctly it can have really strong results for brand that are highly consumer-focused.

Use reward-based sign-ups

A great marketing initiative that can help to build a stronger customer base and encourage new customers to engage with your brand is through reward-based sign-ups. This is where someone who signs up is able to offer their friend a special code that in turn gives both individuals a discount or some reward.

They are a great way to quickly build a large customer base and it immediately gives people a good impression of the brand.