As you are midstream through harsh economic times, take the time to reflect on your current business operations. Think about the small things that could be tweaked that can have the maximum positive impact on your business. Here are some helpful business tips to maximum the output in your organization and in your business development.
Time is definitely considered an asset when you are a busy, mult-taking entrepreneur. Delegate operational tasks to staff and area specialists as much as you possible can. Free up your time for business management functions, business development, planning and implementation. Institute shorter, more concise meetings and communications as much needed time savers for all. Cut the slack time and concentrate efforts in a condensed shorter period. Incorporate that into individual and team goals.
Clutter can occur in many ways from physical bunched up clutter to the mental clutter of massive workloads of relevant and non-relevant tasks. Take the time to sort this out. Getting organized on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis should be a standard part of your business and of the action plans across all employees. Encourage organizing and priority setting as part of the valued added side of your corporate culture.
Business Tips – Create a Constructive Environment
Feedback is necessary on all aspects of your business. Ensure that you develop a culture of encouraging and valuing input from all levels in the organization. Constructiveness is essential … when everyone puts on their constructive gear and behavior, everyone is “building” towards a common goal. Feedback can be critical nature, but as team members put on the constructive hats, criticism turns to positive alternative idea and solution generation. Problems and issues are better solved when the collective can feed into the solution.
This business tip is not necessarily focused on spending massive amounts of time on social media. Being social in business means networking, partnering, collaboration, team work. Every business, every entrepreneur venture is vastly stronger when you and your team get out there and communicate and network with everyone. Not all deals, partnerships and customers will automatically fall into your lap … you need to get aggressive and make the moves to communicate and network with others. Remember that social media is only one form of communication and engagement with other businesses and customers. Communications, marketing and business development occur in many ways outside of normal office functions and social media.
Business Tips – Be Helpful
As a leader, entrepreneur and community member be helpful to all and it will eventually return to you in spades. Being a business leader is not a one-way street…. you need to not only receive but to give. Your valued staff give their efforts and their time to helping you achieve your success. You need to help your staff become successful through employee development, encouragement, recognition and in your acceptance of their needs professionally and in their personal lives.
When developing products and services for customers, remember this two-way street. It’s not about just gaining revenue from clients. You should be developing your business around how your products and services can first help the intended market, and meeting the needs of the consumer. Revenue then potentially follows after successfully meeting the needs of the customer.
Plan well for maximum benefits and results!
Relevant personal and business development blogs and articles
Efficiency to Survive in the Current Economic Environment
Tough economic times require tough business decisions. In cases of self-employment, when times are difficult, the onus rests on the business owner to implement contingencies. When reductions occur in smaller businesses, everyone, including the owner, get busier. In extreme cases to survive, businesses may reduce operations down to the owner handling all tasks, from management to operations to administration… just to survive.
In order to find efficient methods in operations, businesses insert in tech tools. However, being connected by mobile devices adds a new dynamic to vacationing business owners, as it has now become part of the norm on vacation. Business owners are glancing at their emails while sitting on a beach, partaking in a tourism outing, or trying to spend leisure time with family.
In this infographic from Manta, some key trends are emerging in small business and mobile device use, from an external Manta Wellness survey that was conducted in June 2012.
58% of business owners say they are working more than the previous year
70% of those surveyed do not plan to hire any additional staff this summer
71% of business owners express working and responding to emails while on vacation
60% of entrepreneurs state they enjoy vacations more due to their mobile devices (huh?)
68% of respondents say they use mobile devices while using their computers
54% state that they use mobile devices at work to check email (business or personal) and,
24% of business owners use their mobile devices every day
Business issues – A few points were clear from this survey:
Businesses are still facing challenges in this economy - Ensure you plan well in advance. Business planning should be conducted frequently to help in mitigating around the surprises this economic environment may bring.
Business are making adjustments and finding efficiencies – develop operational and human resource plans focused on finding effective, efficient methods with reduced labor and resources.
Work-life balance issues at the business owner level doesn’t appear well – we all know these are tough economic times, but strong work-life balance at all levels will keep employers and employees happy and healthy. Ensure work-life balance exists for healthy minds, bodies and relationships.
Effective tools are needed to handle complex volumes of work – Ensure you invest in capabilities to make work easily for you as the business owner and employees. If mobile devices work well in operations, make it readily available to staff. Devices like these could be the productivity improvement to handle more work more efficiently.
Similar to other business industries, the movie theater industry has experienced ups and downs over the past few decades, with trying to build the customer base and in customer retention.
It is often stated in Customer Relationship Management strategies that it is 3 times harder to attract new customers than to keep customers through customer retention. What do you think the logical, strategic approach is?
On a Friday night, a group of us decided to take in a movie at the theater. Deciding to be entertained in 3-D, we slid in and bought tickets for Ice Age: Continental Drift. After paying the usual ticket prices, the design of the theater brings you to the unavoidable drink – snack – popcorn counter, where of course, we snack – geared everyone for the movie.
To not miss anything, like anyone else, we wanted to ensure we were there prior to the 7:15pm start time. As you are probably aware, the first few minutes prior to the start time, movie goers are slightly entertained, with all bodies pointing forward to the screen with clips and shots of “did you remember to get…”, and all the rest of value-added, movie theater promotional stuff. After 10 minutes of alternating between occasionally glancing at the screen and frequently engaging in conversation with our party, the lights dimmed and volume was cranked up.
In your mind 7:15pm start time is firm and you are ready to watch. Nope, not the case. For the next 16 minutes (yes I was the annoying one looking at my mobile device lighting up the adjacent areas) we all sat through movie trailers, ads and clips, one after another. Then another promotion for another 3-D movie coming up. Oh, and then one fairly entertaining movie theater industry ad attempting to generate more interest in coming to the movie theater again. 16 minutes of this! Didn’t we all just pay to watch a movie at 7:15pm? I can expect to click-through pop up ads on a website if I am getting something for free there, but experiencing this in a movie theater? Why?
Don’t get me wrong that I am severely complaining here, but highlighting more of a business and marketing observation. Quite frequently some of us put on our business hats and observe how businesses promote themselves, engage and communicate with the customer, and try to build up the loyal base of repeat customers. Here are some of the messaging and customer retention relevant observations at the theater before the movie, during that time frame prior to the movie, and post-movie time frame:
Customer convenience – theaters make it easy for customers to buy tickets in advance at kiosks or online
Captivated audience – Paying customers are in front of the screen, focused on the screen and the instructions on proper movie theater etiquette tells movie goers not to be doing anything else (ie: don’t talk, don’t use mobile devices)
Free Trial – Customers are getting a “free” glimpse at additional products, in the appropriate format (ie: movie theater ads have a bigger impact being played in the actual movie theater and not on a 21 inch, non-surround sound system at home)
Investment – the movie industry sinks millions into advertising and test marketing these ads prior to developing the final 2 minute clip or trailer (ever notice movies had looked super appealing in those trailers?)
Feedback – the theaters capture customer feedback in two ways – in person or by kiosk; this feedback is an important part of improving the experience and of the Customer Relationship Management process
Whatever the tactics and strategies used by the movie theater industry, they are able to hit and make an impact on the paying customer to enable a response to return. In your business, what are your strategies to gain the continued interest from your customer? Keep them informed? Provide them will add-on packages while you have their attention? Offer the free trial to keep the customer coming back? Ensure you observe certain industry and business tactics towards gaining and retaining the customer base. Incorporate strong customer retention strategies in your business plan and marketing strategies.
As an entrepreneur, business owner, or manager in the public or private sector, the way you conduct hiring or staffing processes can have measurable effects on your staff and organization. Opportunities presented to internal staff in fair and transparent processes can be uplifting to staff, generate interest in the organization, and result in the recruitment of needed professionals. Poor staffing processes can be demoralizing for employees, and can have negative, long-term impacts on the development of human resources in your business.
Hiring – Human Resources Plan
Similar to business and marketing plan development, human resource management in your business would include the development of an annual human resources, staffing plan. Management, supported by information from operational units in the organization, should be able to identify human resources needs for the upcoming annual business cycle. Salary and wage budgets are an important component to the plan, along with the costs for employee development. The costs for hiring and staffing processes should be taken into consideration, especially if travel or external human resources consultants are needed for the staffing processes. Once plans and budgets have been developed, the business will be better prepared to proceed on staffing processes.
Here are some tips to improving your staffing process, staff morale, and results in your organization:
Be fair, open and transparent to all staff on any potential opportunity or position
Look internally first at your valued staff before seeking external sources
Consider employee development to fulfill positions rather than external acquisitions
Gauge employee interest in development, retention and promotion through your annual employee appraisal procedures
Ensure employees have an opportunity to develop a learning and development plan, and that you as the employer can support employee developmental initiatives
Hiring Through Job Postings, Job Advertisements
A clear and concise employment posting must be developed, to make sure all applicants understand who can apply, how to apply and what must be completed in the process. Here are some details that could be included in a job posting:
Who the job will be open to (ie: internal, external, certain levels, professions)
Where the job will be located
Duration of position
Essential job criteria (applicant must meet these criteria)
Asset job criteria (applicant scores bonus points for these “great to have” additional skills, traits)
Other competencies (ie: leadership competencies)
Conditions of employment (ie: travel, OT where necessary)
Employment equity considerations, and
Contact for questions, concerns, and who to send the application to
Staffing Process – Time Frames
Be cognizant that adequate time frame will be required for staffing processes. Management of time will be essential to develop the time frames around the process, the assessment tools and development of the job criteria. You must allow time frames for the applicants to apply, be tested, be interviewed and for the reference checks. If through your human resource planning you have determined potential start dates for employees, then you will have an idea on the time frame to initiate the hiring process. Don’t procrastinate on staffing processes or you may find yourself hiring and starting the successful candidate later than was actually needed.
Hiring – Short Term Solutions or Alternatives
If staffing processes can’t meet your immediate needs, you may have to consider acquiring the help or expertise externally through short-term contracting. Contracting gives you the ability to acquire human resources in a potential shorter time frame, with more controls with terms and conditions within a contract. Ensure that your explore contracting a short-term solution.
Partnering companies in your field may be able to complete a human resources exchange with you. Partnerships are beneficial as the parties can come to an agreement over the sharing of resources, so short-term staffing may be accomplished through your partnership arrangements.
Developing and maintaining high standards in your hiring practices will result in the best retention, development and recruitment of human resources. Make the “Best Employers to Work For” list, internally and from an external perspective.
More on Hiring, Human Resources, and Employee Development