Archive for category The Board Room

Shut up and start that business!

Sometimes there is too much yabbering on about “Yeah I’m going to start that business” well get on with it! I don’t mean BLINDLY jump in and start but there are things you can do to assist your start up to well… get started. Plan, you have probably thought about your business a LOT! Now put those thoughts on paper.

Get the right people behind you, a mentor, an accountant and listen to their advice and information. Then explore ways to make your business successful, That might start with effective accounting software, so you can have time to practice getting up to speed with how it will work for your business.

Now take a look at these ideas and explore your planning from there.

Start up tips.
  • Get smart – Set solid achievable goals, Aim to work less physically and earn more, therefore get others to do the hard stuff that is too taxing on you and you get to supervise them
  • Do your research – Who are your competitors, what is the need for what you have to offer, how much will your costs of business be…
  • Get a mentor – Find someone ‘successful’ in the line of business you want to go into and chat to them, make them your best buddy, learn from them fast.
  • Do the sums – How much money do you need to earn PER DAY to make a decent wage for yourself, work it out over a 220 day period, as that’s about all you get in a working year. Know that profit is different from wages and overheads… Use any profit wisely
  • Develop easy systems, policies and procedures as you go – Make it so that if you had to sell the business tomorrow, you could set someone up in that business really easily
  • It’s an asset – That means it earns money and if you sell it later on you can realise a profit. If it’s a good business it will sell easily and that will be due to good $$ figures as well as having great systems a kid could follow to make it run
  • Be the leader people LOVE –  Your staff, your customers, your suppliers. They should all love you for all the right reasons, you are honest, trustworthy, respectful
  • Learn more – You don’t know it all, you either learn fast or get someone to do do it for you. Actually do both so you can keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening
  • Squeak – Be squeaky clean in all your dealings in business, naughty deals go bad, not every time, but when they do you may well have good reason to fear for your life
  • Professionalism – Be the best you can at communication, presentation, living positive values, making/creating fantastic goods and or services

Overwhelming? Welcome to business, and this is just the tip of the iceberg…

  • Have business insurance – Peace of mind can cost money, but it’s worth it if you need to payout hard earned $$ for whatever reason
  • Real estate – You want to rent an office, a workshop, a shopfront… Good find out the details of how long the lease needs to be, what things you can and can’t do there. If you want to rely on passing trade, for a shop front for instance, then sit out the front and count, if 50 people go past in a day, how many of those will buy from  you?
  • Marketing – It was never easy, and now although there is social media, it’s even harder to get peoples attention, time to create a plan, a detailed one. Oh and you have budgeted for the costs yeah?
  • Budget – In the first phase of business you will spend a heap of money, make sure you know where it’s going. Careful planning is vital here, too many people have thrown away countless thousands on a fabulous idea, only to go nowhere. These people can end up sour and bitter about business. Track your income, profits etc, learn  how to do that effortlessly
  • Learn more – Read articles, jot down ideas, do a small business course, jot down more ideas, check out your competition and other businesses like yours, chat to them, find out their pain and figure out what you can do to avoid that pain. Go to business seminars, industry events and the like. Get into groups on social media for your industry type. Read books on key business things you need to know about, marketing, operations, management, communications skills, leadership and negotiation, just to name a few

So you figure you will be busy with all this and have no time to do your real business… Yep, that’s right. If you think your business is just going to be 9 – 5 with days off, then you have another thing coming. You will plan to get in early, leave late and LOVE IT! If you don’t hang in for the long haul deeply passionate love fest, then you can kiss the whole thing goodbye…

  • Get passionate – Then stay that way
  • Get support from your family and friends – They might not see much of you for a while! Also make sure you support them…
  • Develop  your skills – don’t just think you are good at what you do, become brilliant!
  • Be humble – No one likes a smart Alec, nuf said!
  • Surround yourself – With people who care and want you to succeed
  • Repeat – All the previous points and get on with being fantastic at what you do and how you run your business

I guess you need to then figure out early how you will replace yourself in your business with others who can do the work and free you up to get on with enjoying the business. Don’t like some aspect of your business? Put someone in there that can do the task and love it.

Regards

Steve Gray

Enterprise Provocatuer

 

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Five tips to Grow a Sustainable Small Business in 2017 and Beyond

 

Far too many small businesses fail within the first five years – so how do you make sure yours is
one of the success stories?
Here are 5 important tips to help you grow a sustainable small business.

  1. – Cash is king
    The number one reason SMEs go to the wall is that they run out of cash. So if you want to go to
    the distance, it’s crucial that you monitor your cashflow.
    Turnover does not equal profit – and profit on paper is meaningless if you can’t pay your bills
    when they fall due.
    There are lots of strategies you can use to boost your working capital, including:
    · Organising short-term finance like an overdraft or business credit card to cover
    shortfalls
    · Controlling your stock levels to avoid tying up cash in excess inventor
    Shaun McGowan from business loans website Lend says “Business owners should consider
    using long-term finance instead of cash for asset purchases and always to negotiate with
    finance providers and creditors to match payments to your cashflow”.
  2. – Know your numbers
    To run a successful business, you must keep a close eye on your financial performance,
    including these key ratios:
    · Profitability – what percentage of each sale is profit, once you’ve covered variable costs
    like materials, transport and customer acquisition?
    · Breakeven point – how many sales do you need to make to cover your fixed costs?
    · Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) – this ratio (net profits/total assets) tells you how
    much return you are making on the money invested in your business. Compare this to
    how much you could make by investing that money elsewhere, to evaluate whether
    your business is profitable enough to compensate for your time and effort.
    Analyse your performance monthly, so you can spot problems early and take action to get back
    on track.
  3. – Value your people
    Your business is only as good as the people in your team.
    Fill any gaps in your skills with people who have those strengths – and who share your passion
    and vision. Treat them with respect, reward their efforts well, and harness their skills to make
    your business stronger.
  4. – Safeguard your reputation
    In today’s viral age, a bad review can spread like wildfire and permanently damage your
    credibility.
    The customer may not always be right – to be sustainable you need to pick your business
    relationships with care and work with profitable clients who pay on time – but the customer
    experience is vital.
    Build and maintain a loyal customer base by having strong core values, and acting with
    consistency and integrity at all times.
  5. – Grow with caution
    Not every opportunity will be worthwhile, so evaluate each new customer, sales channel or
    acquisition before you leap in.
    · Do you have the capacity to service a new customer without hiring more staff or
    investing in new infrastructure? If not, will the profits cover your additional fixed costs?
    · Will you still be able to provide the level of service upon which your reputation
    depends?
    · Does the opportunity fit with your long-term plans and strategic direction?

Cautious, steady growth is the key to long-term success and sustainability.

They left, so what…

A current saying that is so true, “People leave because of the Manager, not because of the company”.

Basically you can have a good company, but a bad department in that company can account for most of your staff turnover. Chat to the Manager and you might find a range of excuses, justifications and reasons why. Ask some of the staff and you might find some other issues.

Managers can cause tensions, often through not knowing about ‘things’, which can build up to become a sore point for a team member. Sometimes it can build up to become a “Homer Simpson Moment” You may remember the scene where Homer says to his Daughter, “Lisa, everyone knows that you don’t protest at work, if you don’t like the job, you just go in and do it half assed”.

Managers can;

  • Annoy people with a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ approach, possibly not following systems and procedures and creating excuses as to why that happened and “oh it’s a one off…”
  • Talk about and possibly undermine a team member behind their back, causing others to think differently, or wrongly about that person
  • Be disorganised and blame others for the poor performance of the team or one person, planning seems to be ad hoc at best
  • Create more drama than required, by pushing deadlines, fumbling through chaos, over reacting to situations, and a host of other things only drama creators will probably understand fully…
  • Flaunt Health and Safety guidelines, procedures etc… Causing people to play one against the other when they don’t want to use personal protective equipment for their own safety.
  • They don’t look for problems, they wait for the problems to come to them… When they do they have multiplied in strength and become a major issue, rather than a thing that may have had a quick fix if caught early
  • Busyness becomes them… Yep they are tangled up in ordering, allegedly organising and dealing with things that keep them away from the real work. Good planning and organisation will mean they can have time to do lots of little things to make things run effectively, and time for the bigger things like supporting, discussing and exploring, in short coaching…
  • Train, empower and motivate, that’s probably the main task of most Managers, yet in failing divisions or departments, these three key things are done poorly, one thing done badly is bad enough, but all three can spell disaster

Do  your business a favour and find out how you can support your team leaders, managers and supervisors to be better at eliminating these issues. When you become the coach, you can then expect more staff to stay for the long term, supported and happy in the role they play.

Buy that business!

You have seen a business you want to buy… all good, you like what they do, you have the skills to do it, you want to know more, you get the financials and have a chat to the current owner. “Profits are up 5%on last year… The staff are not interested in taking long service leave… No bad debts… With a new person in charge, who knows what’s possible!”

Reason for selling? “Time to retire…” it all sounds so good, until you dig deeper, here are some tips on things to look for when evaluating a business to purchase.

  • Renting – Is the current price per month about to go up but no one is saying anything. That 5% profit on the previous year might dwindle fast
  • Profit – It’s up from last year… but how much was it to begin with? If it was only 2% before hand then it’s not much of a rise, unless the profit amount in dollar terms is quite high, that might be different. BUT what if the profit expressed in dollars is low? Let’s say it’s $10,000 per anum on average over the last 5 years, that’s probably not much, unless the owner is paying themselves a huge amount for some reason and then the profit could be low.
  • Cash at hand – Oh look, there’s cash in the bank, well the current owner may take that with them… perhaps ignore it as some form of bonus, but deduct it off the price you intend to pay
  • Valuation of the business – Get an accountant to have a look at the figures and have them point out any glaring anomalies. A good profit on paper, might just equate to covering the amount the owners should pay themselves, but have not been paying themselves wages. Therefore what looks good now might be a big disappointment
  • Assets – Are they really worth what is stated in the figures? Will you want to update some of the assets… It starts to get trick folks. Stock at hand, what if most of the stock is out of date or they are items people don’t want to buy any more. You might end up throwing this stock out, then there would be replacement cost for useful items.
  • Systems – All the simple processes and procedures that get used to make things easier, how do they run their database? Are there quality processes and or assessment methods in place to measure the quality of what you get, sell etc.
  • Staff – Grumpy, underpaid, wanting to get a new owner who is cashed up so they can take long service leave, cashed up so they can sue for breaches of Workplace Health and Safety issues, cashed up so they can trip up and claim compensation, the list could go on. Then you find out they have been on the wrong pay scale and are wanting pay rises. So you know all that but you figure you can turn them around and create a new culture of happy committed staff, chances are hell will freeze over first! Changing a dud cultire is like trying to turn a cruiseliner around it takes a lot of effort to do it, then by time you do it the territory you ended up at now looks totally different…. That’s right you are now facing the worng way. 🙁
  • Customers – You find them leaving the business in their droves, it turns out they loved the way the previous owner did things, now they are off to find a new supplier. The truth be known, they probably just didn’t like the new pricing you introduced, after all you wanted to up the profit margin

As you can see it can be a minefield, make sure you do your due diligence, be thorough and ask LOTS of questions. Once the deal is done, the last thing you want is BIG surprises.

Bullying in a Warehouse Environment and How to Deal With It

Bullies are, sadly, part of life. Some people derive a great deal of pleasure from making others feel bad. This can be done physically, emotionally and with social media. Unfortunately, many of these individuals don’t get such behaviour out of their systems during childhood. Some even carry it into the professional world, and few people are equipped to deal with them in a meaningful way. Warehouse businesses need to understand not only how to identify bullying behaviour, but also how to instruct employees to deal with these individuals. The process is simple, at least on paper, yet can have a huge impact on the way a business is run and the morale of its employees.

Identify What it Means to Be a Bully

There’s much more to bullying than the typical schoolyard insults that you might remember from your youth. To combat bullying, it’s necessary to first identify how it presents in the workplace. While bullying can be physical, it can also consist of shunning people, gossip, and berating others for their ideas. Simply put, bullying is any activity undertaken to put another person at a disadvantage. It doesn’t have to benefit the person doing the bullying, necessarily – what is important is that another person is put down, and that the workplace environment becomes hostile.

Accepting the Realities of the Warehouse

When dealing with bullying, it’s also important to realise that a warehouse is also largely different than a white collar environment. While many of the same motivations and personalities might be at play, bullying can have dangerous consequences in an environment that is fully of heavy equipment. Bullying doesn’t just slow down the work day and make people upset – it can lead to distractions, which can in turn lead to accidents. Bullying is an issue that’s even more dangerous in a warehouse environment, and thus must be handled with extra care.

Dealing with Bullies in the Warehouse

Dealing with a bully can be difficult, but there are options available to anyone who feels like they are being targeted. There can often be a stigma against going to management to deal with such issues in a warehouse, and it’s often recommended that bullying victims ‘stand up for themselves’. Unfortunately, this simple statement is not only often difficult in reality, but can also cause further problems. Instead, the best way to deal with bullying is to document the issues as they occur and then go to the management with definitive proof. While it’s good to be firm, it’s even better to provide proof that the bullying has occurred.

Dealing with bullying isn’t an easy task, nor is it one that is always as effective as one might hope. Identifying the behaviours, realising the problems they can cause, and coming up with plans to deal with troublemakers should be a primary concern for any warehouse business. Workplace bullying can be eliminated, but only with the cooperation of workers and management. Without a solid plan, bullying will continue to cause workers distress and cost businesses hard-earned money for years to come.

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Ways to engage staff

I saw a recent article on ways to engage staff and had a chuckle, this stuff was perfect for the corporate world of go getters and the eager beaver types, but they failed to mention the Desperados, those who have had to give up the chase and were more intent on the work, be paid and be thankful types and yes there are plenty of them.

Those who have watched their buddies and friends face redundancy, the sack etc and are fearful of their own situation. People with Mortgages, kids education bills, life costs in general and all the trappings that cause us to ‘hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go’.

To engage this type of employee, all you need to do is offer them a job, where the toxic manager types and nasty co workers are kept at bay, turfed out or made to redress their sins. where the sense of security is solid and the days are predictably neutral with a touch of happiness sprinkled in, and they will reward you with productive outcomes for a long time.

Oh the article mentioned

  • Goals linked to the bigger picture
  • A culture of ongoing feedback
  • Collaborate on their development
  • Simplify performance management
  • Develop leadership skills

and being flexible in your approach to doing all this is vital.

I agree with all those points of course, they are all good, however in the harsh reality of work and life, just having a job can enough engagement for some, going the extra mile to make it work for them is like a cherry on top.

Let’s keep a sense of reality here and make sure our perspective is not skewed by chasing our tail and thinking we need to go all out and spend up big to keep people on side, but let’s make sure the results we want are not fettered by our sense of reality rather than the reality of those we are trying to look after.

How to be Emergency Ready in a Construction Workplace

One of the riskiest professions is that of a construction worker. With every thinkable hazard lurking from every corner and aspect of work, construction sites are considered as a health and safety nightmare.

workplace-ready

Image from Pixabay

There are even some countries where construction workers are not even given social security benefits mainly because of the dangers involved in their everyday activities.

Responsible employees, however, are aware of their duties and obligations. Keeping up with different measures and compliance with the related laws, due care of workers and visitors alike are given top priority.

It is important to note that having all of these in place cannot guarantee a full protection against accidents. Should there be an emergency in a construction workplace, here is a first aid guide to help you during critical situations:

Assess the Situation

It is instinctive to immediately react to a situation, therefore, people tend to flock the victim which is highly unrecommended. This is what you should do:

  • Quickly neutralize hazards around the place of emergency.
  • Check for anything around the area that may cause further harm.
  • Evaluate the victim and check for consciousness and responsiveness.

Ask someone to make an emergency call as you look after the patient. In case you are alone with the victim, never leave his/her side. Reach out for your phone and make the necessary call.

Bear in mind the following in making an emergency call:

  1. Your phone number
  2. A concise but relevant description of what happened
  3. The status of the patient
  4. Your exact location.

As the help arrives, it is ideal to have someone meet the incoming emergency team.

Handling Burns

Burns are damage to one or multiple layers of the skin caused by exposure to heat or chemicals. It is important to make sure that the danger is under control before attempting to approach the victim.  

Burns range in severity from minor to major, the first aid for any degree is to wash the affected area with clean running water.

Remember that chemical burns are highly sensitive and can easily get contaminated. Remove any clothing exposed to the chemical. Make sure that you flush the area with running water that is cool and not cold. Exposing burns from chemicals with cold water may aggravate the injury.

After flushing with water, apply a non-adhesive, non-fluffy, wet dressing. This will help prevent infection without agitating the burnt area. Call for a medical assistance as soon as possible.

Taking Care of Bleeding

Cuts and bruises are common in any workplace, especially in a construction site. You must, however, take extra caution in handling bleeding patients no matter the severity of the wound.  As such, always wear a pair of gloves when treating them.  

Encourage the patient to relax and be seated properly, then check the wound for any foreign material. Do not remove any objects from the wound. This may cause further bleeding.

In some severe cases, bleeding can cause shock, call an ambulance immediately.

You can minimise bleeding by placing a dressing on the wound while applying firm, direct pressure. It will also help a lot to keep the affected area elevated and restrained.

Crush Injury First Aid

Crush injuries are those that occur because of pressure from a heavy object onto a body part. It is also caused by the squeezing of a body part between two objects.

Depending on severity, crush injuries can result in:

  • Broken bones
  • Severe bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Lacerations
  • Breakdown of muscles

Always neutralize any hazard before attending to the victim. Check for any response, if conscious, reassure the patient.

Assess the situation, remove the crushing weight ASAP as long as it is logically safe to proceed.

Evaluate the wound’s severity, for minor crush injuries, the medical attention needed are the same as treating cuts and bleeding.

Dealing with Fall Injuries

Victims who fell from height that is more than one meter can already be considered critical. The chances of incurring head or spinal injury are already high. The immediate course of action is to stabilise the victim and treat any possible concussion.

Make a thorough assessment of the victim. Signs of concussion that require immediate medical attention include:

  • Confusion
  • Vision impairment
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness

If the victim sustained any fracture, treat any incurred wound and immobilise the fractured part. Call an ambulance straight away.

Every emergency needs to be properly documented. The what, where, and how must be explained in as much detail as possible. The treatment provided must be properly noted, as well as the ambulance number and the hospital where the victim is taken too.

Having a first aid guide in your office wall can actually save lives.

als-fa-poster-construction-v3

For more first aid visual guides, posters and a free comprehensive ebook, check out this Beginners Guide to Workplace First Aid.

This post was created by the team at ALSCO as a business development initiative. many thanks to Katrina McKinnon and team.

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