Mastering management skills to help your business succeed

There’s no getting around it: one of the key contributors to failure in small and medium-sized businesses (and sometimes even big ones) is poor management. Altogether too many people think that because they can build a business they can run one, and try to learn on the job. Others get out of their depth at a departmental level, inadvertently undermining the rest of the enterprise. However, it doesn’t need to be like this. What makes the difference is recognizing that a manager isn’t just there to tell people what to do – good management requires specific skills. If you want to make a success of it, these are some of the things you have to learn.

Strategic thinking

The first thing you need to understand is that management isn’t just internal – it’s about understanding the position of each department within the company as a whole, understanding how that company fits into its sector, and understanding how that sector fits into the wider economy. This makes it possible to make effective decisions about actions that are needed and how finances should be managed. A manager has to be able to see the big picture, and should aim to plan about three years ahead while remaining flexible enough to account for changing circumstances.

Networking

Part of a manager’s job is to network, both within the company and outside it. Good networking brings in opportunities for improving the mechanics of the supply chain. It provides the chance to keep on learning new techniques for internal use, and it helps you to keep your finger on the pulse as far as developments within your sector are concerned. Networking doesn’t just take place at formal events, so you should be ready to get out and about and build up useful social connections.

Time management

In order for a business to run smoothly, everybody needs to be coordinated. This means that sticking to deadlines is really important. Managers not only need to get their own work done on time but also need to make sure that everybody in their teams do. This isn’t just about pushing people. You’ll also need to be aware of their individual capacities and make sure that work is portioned out in a manner that is practical, even if that doesn’t always seem fair.

Setting objectives

In order to facilitate work getting done on time and employees being able to engage with it enthusiastically, managers need to be able to set clear objectives and persuade their teams of their importance. At the most basic level, employees know that their livelihood depends on the company’s success, but they need to understand why particular actions are important to that success, and they need to have a clear picture of what’s required of them. As a rule, they will be more efficient when they can see how what they have been asked to do will contribute to the whole.

Communication

Communicating successfully with employees, board members, and others requires real flexibility on a manager’s part. This is one of the most important aspects of the job, and the reason why, for instance, Washington State’s online MBA program offers specialist courses in communications. First and foremost, it’s important to recognize that individuals vary and that information can’t always be delivered in a one-size-fits-all way. To be successful, you will need to be able to identify and adapt to the needs of your team. You’ll also need to be strong on formal communication techniques, especially for external use.

Investing in people

Ultimately, a manager can achieve nothing without a good team, but it’s the manager’s job to refine and develop that team. This means that you’ll need to be able to identify talents that should be brought to the fore, deal with clashes between team members, and identify weaknesses that suggest the need for additional training. All this will be more successful if your team members feel valued as individuals and are able to develop real trust in you, so you will need to work hard to be seen as supportive, attentive, and fair.

Good management enables a business to optimize its assets – including human ones – and punch above its weight in the marketplace. Management skills can be learned, but this is only possible when managers accept that they don’t know everything already and are willing to see themselves not only as bosses but also as functional parts of a larger business organism. If you’re ready for this, sharpening up your skills could enable you to take your business to the next level.

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Keeping Your Eye on the Ball: How to Stay on Top of Your Business Overheads and Taxes

Being self-employed is challenging enough for most people, but trying to keep up with business records while focusing on keeping everything running can be downright difficult. Yet keeping accurate business records is a legal requirement.

Besides, if you can manage to keep track of your bookkeeping, you might also save money. Organized business records make it easier and faster to prepare your end-of-year accounts, so you save money on accounting costs.

Related: Last minute tax tips

When your book-keeping is accurately documented, you also have the advantage of being able to monitor your business’s cash flow at a glance.

Related:

The problem many self-employed people face is knowing exactly what to record. Here are some tips for staying on top of your business records.

  • Invoices: All the invoices you receive need to be tracked accurately. Include information about the amount, the date the amount was paid, the name of the company or customer and what the invoice was for.
  • Receipts: Staying on top of your expenses is the easiest way for your business to remain tax-efficient. Keep track of any receipts that relate to your work in any way.  Your accountant can offer some advice about which expenses you can claim as a self-employed person.
  • Business Expenses: There are some business expenses that may not receive receipts. For example, if you have a credit card for your business, you might use your bank statements to keep track of some expenses instead of recording receipts.
  • Keep Personal Finances Separate: Many self-employed people combine their business and personal finances in the same accounts. However, no matter what size your business might be, it’s important to keep business and personal finances separated. Open a separate bank account to for your business funds and use this account to cover your expenses. You’ll find it much easier to keep track of what’s been spent on business. You also won’t be wasting time trying to break down which expenses related to what entity at tax reporting time.
  • Use the Right Apps: Self-employed people can make their lives much easier by using the right apps to record and track their accounts on the go. If you enter in one or two items every couple of days, you’re staying on top of your records as you go. You’re also saving plenty of time, as you won’t need to spend long hours at the end of the reporting period trying to catch up with all those entries.
  • Back-up Regularly: No matter how busy you are, make the time to back up your records on a regular basis. There’s nothing worse than suffering a hard-drive failure or technical disaster and losing your business records in the process.

Staying on top of your business records doesn’t have to be a time-consuming chore. The key is to take financial control and be sure your records are up to date on a regular basis. You’ll end up saving a lot of time and hassle in the long run.

Related: How to be a great landlord

 

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7 Steps to Healthy Time-Management

Who among us couldn’t use a little more organization in our lives? Whether you are just discovering the wonders of  planners or you are hyper-organized already, there are a few ways you can work smarter, not harder toward accomplishing this goal. We’ve gathered seven simple tasks that can set you on the path to perfect planning

1. Create Categories

Just about everyone has some basic categories under which all their tasks fall. These are things such as:

  • Home
  • Work
  • Family
  • Personal
  • Money
  • Long-term

Keeping your to-do list and appointments organized based on these headings can make a huge list seem more manageable. Plus, tasks in some categories, such as “home” may only be possible to accomplish on the weekends, which helps you prioritize your weekdays. The opposite could be true for “money,” which mostly must happen between Mondays and Fridays.

Related: Increase productivity with standing desks

2. Consider Color

Once you’ve created your categories, you might want to assign a color to each one. Get yourself a rainbow pack of highlighters or writing pens and then color-code all of the entries in your planner. If you are a visuals-oriented person, this method can help you see what you need to be working on with just a glance. As an added bonus, having a little color on your list makes it seem a bit less intimidating – and all the more rewarding when you cross a task off the list.

3. Brain Dump

When putting together your planner, try to think of every possible thing you want to get done. Be specific, and don’t feel you have to leave things out because they are too big as projects. Include birthdays, appointments, phone calls to make, household chores and goals you want to accomplish. After you’ve written down everything you can think of, then it is time to organize the list according to category and priority.

4. To-Don’t List

Many people struggle to stay organized because they spend time on tasks that are more pleasurable than the harder chores in the planner. But these distractions usually work against you. It is OK to create a to-don’t list, which will include things you want to accomplish someday but not in the immediate future. When you start to feel yourself go on a tangent, remember to stick to the to-do list and not the productivity-sapping to-don’t list.

5. Consolidate Calendars

If you have a anniversary/birthday/holiday calendar, a medical appointment calendar and a work deadline calendar, you are juggling too much. Find one planner format that will accommodate all the different scheduling types that you maintain and fit the important stuff into that. That way, you will have a wide overview in front of you at all times, and you can even color code each type of task (see No. 2, above).

6. Planner Pamper

The only thing that competes with the satisfaction level of crossing something off a to-do list is the handfeel and aesthetic nature of an attractive, well-organized planner. The smell of the pages, the geometric designs of the calendar pages and the heft of the book all add to the appeal. Even if you are more drawn to electronic planning apps or your cell phone calendar, there’s something appealing about choosing the system and look that’s just right for you.

7. Make It a Habit

Finally, take the time to update your chore lists and appointments every day. Not only will you keep on top of your time management, you’ll also be creating a healthy habit after a stretch of time. It doesn’t have to take more than a few minutes to cross things off or add them, and you’ll be glad you made the time.

Getting organized isn’t difficult when you get a planner, make your list and keep it updated. These seven tips should keep you on track.

You might also enjoy: Mini-guide for home business

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Top resume tips for eager job seekers

By following these top resume tips, you'll improve your chances of getting a position you want
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A great resume explains why you are the person to hire in a professional, concise way. Utilize a few resume tips for finance majors from the experts at Beacon Resources to make it clear why hiring you is something your selected company will benefit from. Think of your resume as a representation of your brand  and make it stand out.

Keep It Short

Keep your resume short and to the point. One page is the recommendation; however, if yours must be two pages, make sure the most important information is on Page 1. Remove unnecessary info if you are having an issue with length, such as “curriculum vitae” and “references available upon request.” Most recruiters and employers spend about seven seconds on a resume.

Create an Engaging Summary

Write a fluff-free summary featuring your key qualifications and other strengths that separate you from the competition. Avoid “buzz words” such as “motivated” and “proactive” in favor of language that touts your professional experience.

Make a Skills List

Show off your skills in bulleted list form. Review job descriptions thoroughly so you understand what potential employers are looking for and what terms you should emphasize in your skills list, such as accounting, budgeting, cash flow management, and business analytics. Use action verbs, including “created”, “managed,” and “developed.”

Include Your GPA; Avoid Coursework and High School Info

Include your GPA on an entry-level resume only if it is 3.0 or above. If your GPA is below 3.0, note that your San Francisco financial recruiters might ask why, so have an explanation ready. Do not include information about high school, as employers want to know what you have been doing lately. Avoid mentioning your college coursework as well, especially if you have relevant internships and the like listed.

Find accounting jobs in Orange County with these and other resume tips for finance majors from Beacon Resources.

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Why the internet has driven retailers online

Wondering Why the internet has driven retailers online?
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If you are thinking about starting a business, you have to consider where and how you’ll showcase your products to customers. A mere 30 years ago, your options were limited. You could have a brick-and-mortar building, or work out of your home, but you had to attract customers to your store. You had a limited region of coverage for sales, at least until your business expanded into other markets. Advertising was very different. The use of mass mail marketing was common, and you had to rely on word of mouth. Billboards and television commercials caught the eyes of your customers.

Fast forward to 2017, and the options for you as a business owner have expanded exponentially. Your customers can be from anywhere on the entire planet, via the internet. You can still send out mailers and advertise on TV, but if you aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity to develop your business online, you are missing out on your full business potential. Here’s why the internet has driven retailers online.

Potential for profits

It is expected that online sales via computers and mobile devices will be over $500 billion by 2020 in the US alone. E-commerce is growing at a faster rate than retail, with over 224 million shoppers spending more online every year. The bottom line is that there is money to be earned from online selling. To ignore it is to hobble your own business potential.

Online to enhance a physical site

Even if you aren’t ready or able to launch a website, you can still take advantage of the internet to build customers. If you establish a news feed, you will be reminding subscribers of your company every time that you post a new article. Posts on Facebook and Twitter also get your company name in front of subscribers, whose reposts are an open invitation to new customers. You can use online communications to invite customers to events at your store, publicize sales, and announce new products.

Online combined with a physical site

No matter how successful your brick-and-mortar business is, an online presence can help drive new customers to your door. Imagine that you are an artisan who sells handmade pottery and runs a storefront. Your customers are going to consist of the people living in the city where you sell. They may recommend your pots to friends, and eventually you may see customers from around the region, the country, and even the world. However, these people must call or write to you for your pots. Somehow, you must send them photos of your products for them to decide if they want to buy something.

The time invested alone in making a profit on the pots is staggering. With a small investment in a website, where you can showcase your pots, receive payments, and set up shipping, you will save time in customer contact. You will build your customer list by recommendations and search engine optimization (SEO). By using social media, you can update customers on new products. With a customer reward program, you can get positive reviews and return business. These efforts will all convert into sales with little to no work save the initial set-up.

Online presence only

Many stores operate solely online. Businesses that are only online can take advantage of the same networking and marketing opportunities as the potter, but they don’t have to pay for the cost of a building and all its attendant expenses, including employees and utilities. With your online presence, you can offer detailed information and videos on your company’s products and services. Customers can preview products and compare prices before they buy. One company that has made a success of an online-only presence is As Seen On TV. The company offers a variety of great products for the home, cars, pets, and more. It produces videos to show customers how its products are used, and the videos are just one way that the company drives sales.

Online is the future

The technology explosion is having a major impact on retail sales. Robotics can now put together customer orders. Analytics can tell you how to target certain audiences with specific products. Online payment systems are popping up to keep transactions safe and quick. Quick delivery of online products with drones is just around the corner.

Whether you are dipping your toe in the water, or basing your business solely online, there is an advantage to using the internet. Even a small investment can mean great profits. Start looking into how the internet can improve your business.

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Dealing with small business accounting issues

It seems that every entrepreneur has dealt with small business accounting issues before
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In a small business it is common for employees to share job roles, including the role of taking responsibility for financial matters and the daily work of keeping business accounts up to date and chasing late payers. Such person(s) often have no training in accountancy and this can lead to issues arising that can be problematic.

Issue number one: collecting payments

Failing to secure payments is the most common and most dangerous issue a small business can deal with when it comes to accounting. The source of the problem can be customers deciding not to pay, but surprisingly often it is simply the inability of a business to reliably send an invoice. If a customer does not get a receipt or invoice they won’t be aware of any payment that is due – having receipt maker software is an efficient way to prevent this happening.

In terms of making sure all payments are made, good record keeping is the most important factor, while being diligent and persistent at following up unpaid accounts is also vital. This does not require any great financial skills – just make sure that a particular staff member is in charge of doing so and importantly, ask them to report on their progress.

Accounting methods and software

Thankfully there is a host of software solutions to make accounting problems less likely to occur. If you automate your accounting processes using software, you can make sure you don’t, for example, send payment to the wrong supplier – which could really harm your cash flow. Software will also make it a lot easier to report your business accounts to the tax authorities, while having a prepared set of accounts that are tidy makes it easier to sell your business or to gain investment.

It can be problematic in some businesses when staff members are used to performing accounting tasks in an old fashioned manner, with pen and paper. Though keeping files and rows of filing cabinets served businesses well over the years, it is not effective these days – your business productivity will be impeded, and you may struggle to effectively connect with some customers and suppliers who would expect electronic record keeping.

Finding professional help

It is unexceptional for businesses to outsource their accounting functions. In fact, almost all businesses outsource at least some element of it – for example, the filing of final accounts with the government. Every accounting process can benefit from professional help – from invoicing, through to debt collection.

A qualified accountant will also introduce you to the more interesting parts of financial reporting, producing tables and charts which would give you an insight into where your business is profitable – and where it is not. Large corporations produce detailed financial reports for a reason: keeping track of the numbers behind your business is an informative exercise that can help you improve business performance.

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Crew, Double and King Cab: Pointers for Picking the Perfect Pickup Truck for Your Business

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Choosing a pickup truck for your business is a big decision. A good truck will last you years, so you want to make the right choice.

There are numerous factors to consider, including the size, number of doors, engine size, price, fuel economy, performance, and more. Here are some of the main considerations to help you make the right decision when you choose your next one.

Types of Pickups

Firstly, you should know about the different types of pickup trucks available so you can choose the most suitable for you requirements.

Compact pickups, as the name suggests, are smaller. They come in a wide range of styles, including those with four-cylinder and V6 engines.

Then there are full-sized pickup trucks. These are larger and tougher than compacts, and they also tend to come in more configurations.

The 1500-series is the basic pickup truck, and this is often used for family cars as well. However, you may require a larger model, like a heavy duty 2500 model or even a 3500 model like the RAM 3500. These are more serious vehicles that are suitable for carrying heavy loads and hauling large trailers.

Number of Doors

This is one of the basic issues to consider. The number of doors you choose will mainly depend on whether you will use it as a family car as well. If so, a four-door model is most suitable. However, two doors are usually fine if you will use it for work rather than family.

4WD

Whether you get a 4WD or not depends on how you will use it. If you are planning to use your pickup in the snow and mud, or on long off-road journeys, then it will be essential. However, rear-wheel drive is fine for heavy loads on good roads.

You can also get a full-time 4WD model, where the front-wheel-drive is used when needed to give more traction.

Safety Features

Safety features are essential in any type of vehicle. Pickup trucks did not used to have a great safety record, but that has changed. These days, you can find safety features including electronic stability control (ESC), which is mandatory on lighter pickups and helps to prevent them from rolling over.

Chest-level air bags at the side are common in the front seats, and curtain-style airbags in the sides are also common. Traction control is another good safety feature that can help on slippery surfaces.

Always look at the safety features of a pickup when you are choosing a model because safety is one of the most important things to consider.

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is another important issue to consider. The better fuel economy will be for lightweight and smaller models, and heavy trucks will not be so great but you may need the power. Always compare models, however, to find out which pickup will get you further.

Price

Prices range considerably for pickup trucks, and you can pay anything from $20,000 to over $60,000. You tend to get what you pay for, so compare prices until you find a suitable model within your budget.

Choose What You Need

Choosing a pickup truck is a decision you don’t want to rush. So take a look at the options on the market, read reviews, go and see different pickup trucks, and take them for a drive. Consider all the features listed here, and then find the perfect vehicle for your needs.

Brooke Robson runs her own trucking business and is a tomboy who is happiest hanging out with the lads than with the ladies. She writes about auto tech, the trucking industry and shares some business tips.

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Tech Success: Top Apps for Managing Your Workers, No Matter Where They Are

tech-success

Not long ago, businesses only needed remote employee management plans when they employed traveling sales reps, site-repair crews, delivery drivers and other road warriors. Today, with the Internet enabling desk workers to work out of home just as effectively as they might out of the office, telecommuting is common. Remote work has grown 80% over the past decade.

Every business that allows such flexibility needs a plan; telecommuting employees still need to be managed, and they still need to collaborate. If you’re beginning to set up a telecommuting program at your business, it could be a challenge in the beginning to find the right tools. There are apps that every business with remote employee management needs should explore.

Remote desktop software

When members of a team are spread out as they work on a project, nothing can bring them together as effectively as a shared screen. Many businesses make do, rigging up videoconferencing apps for the purpose. While these allow passive screen-sharing, however, participants on call are unable to make changes on shared computer screens. This is where apps such as TeamViewer come in.

TeamViewer works on every major mobile and desktop platform, and allows participants to actually use a shared computer as if it were their own. Not only does TeamViewer help make teamwork efficient, it helps with troubleshooting needs, as well. An employee with a computer issue can always call on support from colleagues headquarters. A tech who is able to look at and operate a device remotely is able to offer effective help.

Meeting software

Skype for Business is often improvised for online business meetings. Businesses employing these non-specialized software applications, however, miss out on a great deal. There are better ways to go about meetings, when one has access to custom-built applications. Specialized meeting apps such as Click Meeting offer features that businesses need — offline messaging, reliable connections, and webinar ability, among others. Multilevel meeting features are an important plus — they allow higher management in the middle of large, mixed meetings, to retreat for discussions.

Cloud storage

Just as remote desktop software helps employees who are geographically spread out, to get together and share their work in virtual conferences, cloud storage allows them to bring their resources together. When employees routinely save everything that they do to the cloud instead of a local drive, every piece of work that employees may create, or every file or resource that they may need, is always within reach. From Amazon Cloud to Dropbox, several cost-effective alternatives available.

Apps that help with logistics

When telecommuting workers need to actually travel to the office, a number of mobile apps help smooth the process. Weather Live Free, the weather app by Apalon Apps, helps foresee weather problems, Parking Panda helps find and reserve parking spots, Gas Buddy helps locate cheap gas, Card Munch organizes business cards, and Sign Easy helps with document signing needs.

Innovative technological solutions such as these help businesses realize the productivity efficiencies promised for telecommuting.

Jordan Greenwood runs a tech company and has remote workers dotted all over the globe. He writes about how technology has changed the world, running a business with it and much more besides.

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Thousands of Buy to Let Landlords May be Fined for Illegal Renting

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landlords
Photo by CC user Jthornett on Flickr.

An ever-growing threat looms in Wales. Thousands of buy-to-let landlords may be facing fines and prosecution due to failing to complete the registration for a new licensing system. Over 13,000 private Welsh landlords may be prosecuted, all have failed to register since the Welsh government instated the Rent Smart Wales scheme. Despite licensing being legally mandatory for a year, the private rental sector has still not met full compliance.

13,208 Applications Left in Limbo

Rent Smart Wales requires all landlords and letting agents to register their properties before they can self-manage their rental. The deadline for compliance was initially set at 23rd November 2016. Ever since then, it has been a legal offence to either let or manage a property without being issued the appropriate license. Only 64,248 registrations were submitted, with 13,208 applications started but not finished. Despite the mass infringement, those delayed need not worry yet. Carl Sergeant, minister and overseer of the scheme, stated that those who started the process will not face persecution. He also insisted that this “must not be seen as an excuse to ignore the law”.

Rent Smart Wales – Promoting Quality Rentals

Rent Smart Wales aims to bolster the quality of service and accommodation of rental properties throughout Wales. They offer extensive training courses, allowing landlords to better understand the situational benefits of rental properties. 96% of all landlords who receive training from Rent Smart leave feeling that the education has made them a better rental agent. Both in-person training and seminars are offered, as well as numerous online training solutions. If you are not registered, you are incapable of serving a valid section 21 notice for possession of your property. Non-compliance may result in the following action being taken:

  • Fixed Penalty Notices (either £150/£250)
  • Rent Repayment Orders
  • Rent Stopping Orders
  • Criminal Prosecutions and Fines

Act Now to Prevent Prosecution

Time is running thin for those who are not yet compliant. Sargeantstated “My message to private landlords is clear. You must take action to comply with the requirements of the law”.Registration costs £33.50 online and £80.50 completed on paper. The amount of properties which you own is irrelevant to the cost. The Property Rental Factory from AXA can help you through the process, while offering useful advice on how to improve both the quality and income of your rental.

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How Businesses Can Save Money by Shopping Online for Toner Cartridges

toner-cartridges

The paperless office isn’t quite here yet, and many people think it shouldn’t ever happen, because print on paper is a primal thing – we just need a bit less of it! Not everything can be done digitally just yet, which is why you’re probably still looking around for the best deals on toner cartridges for your business.

By using a laser printer you’re already spending less anyway, as toner is typically cheaper than inkjet ink, but if you can find a way to make it cheaper still, you’ll be in the pink (or the magenta).

Going online is your best bet

By shopping online, you’re taking the easiest path to brilliant savings on your toner cartridges. Online retailers like Cartridge People are always offering good discounts and incentives. They also usually have a huge range of brands and products on offer so even if you have one of the lesser-known printers, these retailers will most likely be able to help you.

Why is buying online so cheap?

Quite simply, because online retailers don’t have the same overheads as physical stores – shopfronts, retail rents, shopfront staff as well as backroom and warehouse staff, fancy advertising hoardings and so on. It all costs money and it’s something that online retailers don’t need – they just need a cool, safe warehouse, dedicated staff and a good-looking, easy-to-navigate website!

Buying online also means better bulk deals

Because online cartridge retailers are able to store large amounts of stock cheaply (no shopfront, remember), they are usually more than happy to supply bulk orders, which will save you lots of money per unit. In addition to this, toner stores for much longer than ink, which means you can order enough to last for an entire year! Ordering large quantities of inkjet ink can be a bit risky, because it degrades over time and sometimes you’ll have dried out or useless cartridges, wasting your savings.

Other ways to save money by buying online

Order refilling kits

A lot of online sellers stock refilling kits for the better-known brands of toner cartridges. This solution isn’t for everyone, but if you’re quite handy you could make it work for you. You should read all the instructions properly before you start to make sure you do it properly and don’t end up with a huge mess.

Try recycled cartridges

If the idea of refilling your toner cartridges fills you with horror, then try some recycled ones. Recycled means that they’ve been collected as empties and sent to a company that can check, test, refurbish them and then refill them. This solution isn’t as cheap as doing it yourself, but it’s much cheaper than buying new ones and the print quality is indistinguishable.

Buy compatibles

Buying compatible cartridges is also a great solution, especially if you get them from an established, well-respected retailer as they’ll only stock tested and trusted cartridges. A decent online retailer will also give you a warranty and a guarantee just in case something goes wrong or the cartridges don’t work.

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