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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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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Work and Life in Balance: What You Need to Know About Being Your Own Boss

 

With levels of self-employment considerably increasing within recent years, it’s clear to see that becoming your own boss is gaining strong popularity.

Whilst there are many positives in this choosing this career path, there are also plenty of disadvantages too. Estimates suggest a huge 80% of self-employed people are living in poverty, meaning that the dream of earning a high wage whilst working for yourself isn’t a walk in the park. If you’re thinking of branching out on your own, keep reading to discover everything you need to know about being your own boss

Pros and cons

Having total control over your hours, escaping the dreaded early-morning commute and being able to work in your own home environment are a mere snapshot of the pros associated with being self-employed. Especially if you have kids, working from home can be a huge advantage in terms of spending more time with them and fitting work around your children – not the other way around.

However, a lack of routine and financial security are big obstacles of being self-employed. A huge amount of dedication is needed to stay focused, and your income will lack the rigid stability that comes with being employed. If starting your own business is something you want to try, this can prove even more problematic in terms of applying for a business loan especially if you have bad credit. But, as long as you do your research, there are plenty of helpful resources out there.

Getting started

If even after being hit with the self-employment cons, you still want to venture out and become your own boss, you definitely need to take the right approach when starting out. Here are a few simple tips to ensure you get off to the right start and stay as focused and productive as possible!

Plan your week ahead

Structure is key to staying on-track, and if you don’t have a boss to push you to stay focused, you have to do it yourself. Take some time on Sunday evenings to structure your upcoming week day-by-day and stick to it as rigidly as you can. This will give your days purpose and ensure you have a working plan in place.

Stay vigilant

Especially when freelancing, the internet has skyrocketed the availability of online jobs up for grabs. But it’s important you keep mindful of scams, as there are plenty of fake jobs out there that will take your work and run without paying you anything. Stay sensible and perhaps go through a specific freelance site that monitors the payment process to ensure you don’t get scammed.

Take time out

It can be difficult to ‘switch off’ from work when at home all the time. But to keep you sane, take some time out to relax otherwise you could burn yourself out.

Being your own boss certainly comes with its perks, but it’s vital you understand what you’re really getting into before you get started. Utilizing the above tips will not only make you more productive but will also give you a better idea of what to expect!

Harriet Garner took a leap to start her own business after she was made redundant several years ago. Not easy, but always rewarding, Harriet shares her tips with others who want to make the leap.

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Power outages are temporary but the damage might not be- Insure the future of your property with a UPS system

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Given the day and age in which we live, it is absolutely safe to assume that regardless of our occupations, we all have some type of electrically powered service that we would hate to lose. A lot of businesses today rely on data which is stored as digital information on large computers. Similarly, networks use large server rooms to house all the physical servers which host thousands upon thousands of ideas, notes, identity’s and overall information. Of course, it’s not all about computers. We could be talking about other power dependent gear  that can suffer a lot from a power outage.

Depending on where you’re sitting when a cut in power supply occurs, it could be a bummer, problem, or downright tragedy. If we’re talking about a large organization, a cut from electrical power can result in a sever loss of productivity that in the end translates to losing a lot of money.

Here’s where UPS systems come in. Just to clear the air, UPS stands for uninterruptible power supply or source. The purpose of these systems is to provide temporary backup for a power depended appliance/system/machine, so that virtually no downtime occurs in the case of a power cut from the main source. Keep in mind that UPS systems are different than backup power solutions in the sense that they are not designed to substitute a main power source, but rather to keep things going for a short period of time until the backup solution intervenes. Thus, UPS systems only hold enough power for a couple of minutes usually.

You can think of them as the hand you put over a leaking hole until you can strap a piece of tape in place, before cementing the hole. Or in other words, we are looking at the intermediate between the main solution and its backup. While it doesn’t sound all that critical the way it was portrayed just now, UPS systems have a crucial role in keeping systems running at all times. When the main power source goes down, it only takes the slightest instance before the UPS saves the day.

This both a productivity insurance mechanism as well as a safety precaution. When we say safety, we mean for both machine and potentially the user. Computer components often times get burnt due to power outages, while other situations make it dangerous to be left without a power source. When human lives are in danger.

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

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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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How to stay productive when working from home

Wondering How to stay productive when working from home?
Photo by CC user moleshko on Pixabay

The grass is always greener. Those who work in an office for someone else view working from home as a dream come true. You can sleep in, wear your pajamas, work when you want, and make your own schedule. If you want to take your kids to the park, you can. If you want to take a break to catch up on a few hours of your favorite Netflix addiction, you can. If you’re sick, you don’t have to call in. You get to stay in bed, rest, and get back to work the following day.

The reality isn’t exactly like the dream. Working from usually means making your own schedule. Working from home does mean spending more time with your kids, and you certainly don’t have to wear pants if you prefer not to. However, working from home presents its own set of challenges. You might not have coworkers gossiping in your ear or taking credit for your work at home, but you probably have diapers to change and grapes to cut into small pieces at every meal. It’s not always easy to remain productive working from home, but you can do it if you put forth a little effort and use a little creative thinking.

Designate a Workspace

One of the most important things to consider when working from home is your location. It’s far less productive to work at the kitchen table. You can see the dishes piling up throughout the day. You can see the television the kids are watching. You can see the mess they’re making. While no one is suggesting you leave them unattended throughout the day, it’s a good idea to work somewhere else. Turn a spare room into an office so you can shut the door and limit distractions. Keep this space clean and orderly, make it smell good, and make it comfortable. These all promote productivity.

Set Specific Hours

Now that you’re working from home, you get to choose your own hours. A good starting point is your own personality. Are you someone who doesn’t mind rising early because you’re more productive in the morning? Are you someone who can’t sleep at night because you prefer to stay up late being productive? What works for you is what works for your job. Set specific hours, and stick to those hours. Make them a habit, and work during that time frame.

Make Rules

One of the biggest obstacles between you and productivity working from home is everyone in your life. There are always going to be those people who think you spend all day sitting in front of the television watching Netflix or lying by the pool with a mimosa and your girlfriends because you work from home. These people don’t understand you working from home means actually working, so they’ve no problem calling, texting, and stopping by when the mood strikes. Make rules. You work these hours, and they aren’t to interrupt you during those hours. Your home is your office, and your friends and family should respect your office hours at home just as they would in someone else’s office building.

Utilize Lists

To-do lists are a work-from-home person’s best friend. These lists are helpful, because they minimize distractions. If you find it difficult to work from home because you have distractions everywhere, put them on paper. Cross them off as you accomplish them. When you’re not feeling productive, tackle a few of the smallest and most insignificant tasks on your list, and see how much more productive you feel when you’re done with those. This allows you to make money online without feeling overwhelmed.

Prep the Night Before

Working from home is distracting in that you have a house filled with things to do all around you all day. The night before is perfect for you to prep for a successful, productive workday. When you don’t have dirty dishes, laundry, and cleaning to tackle during the day, you’re more likely to work productively. When everything is cleaned, prepped, and ready for you in the morning, it makes your day that much more productive.

If you find yourself distracted by something at home during the day, handle it. Sometimes you’re unable to work productively from home if you’re house isn’t in order. If the kids left a mess before they left for school, take 15 minutes to clean it up and get things in order. It seems like a waste of time you should be working, but getting this out of the way in 15 minutes and working without the distraction the rest of the day is more productive than thinking about it all day. Eliminating distractions works.

Change Your Settings

One of the most productive things you’ll learn working from home is to change your settings. Unless you use your cell phone for business purposes, turn the ringer off or turn the “Do Not Disturb” setting on. It won’t notify you of new messages, emails, or calls until you check for yourself. Change your email settings to notify you of new messages only once per hour or once every other hour.

When your phone is constantly alerting you of new messages, new calls, and new emails, you want to look at them and respond. When you don’t know they’re coming in, you’re not distracted. Do yourself a favor and remove all your social media icons of your work computer, too.

Eliminating distractions, setting specific hours, and taking control of all you should do is what makes for a successful day in the lives of work-from-home business owners and/or employees. If these don’t work, it might be that you need a few minutes to get up and get moving. Go outside for a cup of coffee or a short walk. Stay healthy, don’t forget to move, and minimize distractions. This is what leads to a more productive workday at home.

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Building Productivity in Your Business, Five Steps to Success

If you had to ask people what contributed most to the success of a business, what do you think they would say? People would probably list things like reputation, quality of service, workplace culture, advertising spend and word of mouth referrals as key indicators of a business’ success. If we had to list any one thing that contributes to the success of a business we would say one thing: productivity.

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After all, if you look at traits such as reputation or quality, they all rely on people being productive in order for them to happen.

You don’t get anywhere when you don’t do anything, and so we believe that a huge part of your success comes down to how productive you are. In order to get your business thriving we have outlined three key tips to get your business to a state of higher productivity.

Step One – Get the most important (or nasty) tasks done first

We all know what it feels like when you get to work in the morning, and staring you in the face is that task that you put off yesterday because you really didn’t feel like doing it. Don’t you wish you had just gotten it out of the way?

A key thing to know about getting work done is that if it’s unpleasant or important (or unpleasant AND important) you need to get it done, pronto. That way you will have attacked the task when you’re fresh and ready to go in the morning and you’ll have more time to spend on other tasks during the day. Plus, you won’t have the weight of an important task hanging over you like a guillotine.

Win win, really.

Step Two – Manage time like a boss

When you are a business owner you need to manage your time well, which includes managing the time of your employees as well, so make sure you can prioritise it. Strong time management will trickle down into other areas of your business, which will be sure to help your business and employees to be more productive.

Step Three – Don’t multitask

While you might think you’re working like a pro checking your emails and balancing out a couple of editing documents, all the while chatting online to a prospective client, the fact is that you’re not spending enough time on any of these tasks. An unwavering focus on one task at a time (with proper time management) will be the best way to manage your workload, and make sure that each task is getting the attention it needs..

Step Four – Get it done

Sometimes you won’t want to do certain things, and this is just part of being employed. While procrastination is an easy pitfall and it can be difficult to stay focussed on an unpleasant project, allowing things to build up will be much worse in the long term.

Step Five – Keep your eye on the prize 

Make sure you always having something to work towards. If you are a Melbourne business with the aim to expand into other states or territories, then you need to be looking ahead and investigating your options. Take a look at http://www.servcorp.com.au/en/virtual-offices/prices-locations/brisbane/ to see the various virtual offices on offer. If you become overwhelmed, hiring a business coach who can help you to grow can pay for itself in the long term, so don’t be scared to look for help in boosting your business potential.

Don’t forget to work on building a strong work culture and focus on developing a plan that you can adjust and change to suit your business as it grows. A company’s strength is in the productivity of its employees, and making sure they have the structure and ease to work effectively will quickly boost your business’ potential.

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