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Management

Simple Processes Create More Revenue – Part II

This week we’ll cover just how simple it is to put together a good process that will actually have a significant impact on your business. What we don’t need is more stuff sitting on a shelf …

market, people

market, peopleIn Part I we talked about why processes are so much more important to small businesses than even big business. This week we’ll cover just how simple it is to put together a good process that will actually have a significant impact on your business. What we don’t need is more stuff sitting on a shelf – Process Mapping is designed to make us more money and free us up to enjoy the business we’ve created. The Key – KEEP IT SIMPLE! The more info you try to capture, the less likely you are to actually use the process. Just the opposite of what you might think.

Get Started – It’s never too early.

Very few companies get a good start on processes until long after they are needed, which really puts us behind the 8-ball.

The best processes will be easy to expand as your company grows and more processes and procedures are required. If you have to throw out the processes you started with instead of just tweaking or expanding on them, they likely were not good processes or weren’t even being used.

Some typical simple processes you might need – The Macro Project – map your entire company process (very high level/simple), from marketing & sales, through operations & delivery, through accounting/invoicing, to customer satisfaction. Include everything from the beginning of your company’s marketing process to the very last thing you do to complete the process – cash a check, send a thank you, put someone in a tickle file to be called 6 months from now, etc.

Record the Process – Do this on a piece of paper (or Powerpoint, etc.) using boxes with arrows from one box to the next, indicating what comes next in the process. If you end up with more than 20-30 boxes for your entire Macro Process, you’ve got too much detail – combine boxes until you get it simplified.

Check the Process – see if it is actually what you’re doing – as you go through the process, tweak what you wrote down until it reflects reality (don’t record what you want, but what is.)

Color each box – if you have multiple people in your company, assign a color to everyone and color the boxes with which parts of the process each person owns. If you own them all, seeing one color will motivate you to figure out how to get out of some of the jobs that aren’t at your pay grade. How many boxes do you own? Probably too many.

Assign a Pay Grade – pretend each box is a 40 hr per week job. How much would you pay someone to do that job? Put that in the box. (For your own pay grade – If you want to make $200k per year, that’s $100 per hr (assuming you bill 40 hrs per week, more than likely you’ll need to charge $200 per hr to make $200k).

Redesign the Process – We know what the process looks like. What SHOULD it look like. Get it fixed and re-train your people to the new process.

Circle or re-color the boxes you want to reassign first. The first step in moving from being the producer to being the business owner, is to figure out how to get the low pay grade jobs off my plate and replace them with the activities that are at my pay grade. We think we save money by doing the $20 pr hour job, but if you want to make $200k per year, you are losing as much as $180 per hour every time you do that $20 per hr job. Get someone else doing it (using a Virtual Assistant is always a great first step if you’re a small biz). OBJECTIVE – get your color out of as many boxes as possible.

Regular Review – 15 minutes once a month to make sure you’re actually doing what you say you’re doing, and that the appropriate people are well trained on the process boxes they own. Keep changing it to keep it relevant.

Try not to do this with a lot of your processes. Once you have the Macro Process figured out, you’ll probably want to break it down into a few sub-processes: Sales/Marketing, Operations/Delivery, Finance/Accounting, and Customer Satisfaction. Unless you have a very complex delivery, anything beyond this is potentially a waste of time.

One last thing – for boxes that aren’t self-explanatory, go ahead and write a full process description for that box – this will help people actually go on vacation and know the job will still get done. And it will be a critical first step for you to get out of the Producer role and get into the Business Owner role. After all, wouldn’t you rather own your business than have it own you?

Edward Deming said 85% of a worker’s effectiveness is determined by the process he works within, only 15% by his own skill. How well defined are your processes? Get good processes and get off the treadmll.

Small businesses that use processes create a winning environment that puts them in a different class then their competition. And they are more likely to survive and be profitable.

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Management

4 Ways to Encourage Healthy Eating in the Workplace

food

A healthier workforce is a more engaged and productive one. A lot of people overlook the impact eating habits can have on cognitive functions, mood, and concentration. But by making a few adjustments to your workplace and company culture, you could help your employees make healthier food choices.

Here are a few simple ways you could encourage healthy eating in the workplace.

Use Snack Services

There are plenty of snack services out there that will allow you to provide snacks to your employees for cheap. They allow you to buy various snacks in bulk so you can save on total costs. They’re also a great way to show that you actually care about your employees’ wellbeing.

However, not all of them are created equal and some might be healthier than others. While an office snack service like Naturebox will be focused mainly on providing healthy office snacks like dried fruits, nuts, and low-calorie options, others won’t have as wide a selection and will offer your usual run-of-the-mill snacks with a few “healthy” options. If you want to know more about snack services and which one would be best for you, Bevi has a great article about them. Bevi also supplies beverages for the office, including water dispensers.

Incentivize your Employees

There are plenty of ways you could make things easier for your employees and incentivize healthy eating. Some companies, for instance, will have free fruit around the office or will allow their employees to have access to mineral water. If you have vending machines, make sure that you stock them up with healthy foods as well as the usual snacks. And make sure that healthy options are much cheaper as well.

Do not Neglect Break Time

You have to institute a culture in your business where your employees feel free to enjoy a full lunch break and sufficient screen break time as well. This will encourage healthy eating habits and reduce stress as well. Make sure that they don’t eat at their desk and consider giving flexible break hours so they can get out and stretch their legs. A lunch hour should be long enough to let them go out and enjoy a healthy meal if they want to. Enjoying fresh air will also leave them invigorated for the second half of the day.

Make Sure that it’s a Clear Part of your Company Culture

If you want your employees to truly dedicate themselves to healthy eating, it has to be part of your company’s mission and put down in writing. Make sure that your commitment to healthy eating and overall health is part of the staff handbook. You should also make it clear to your staff that your mission will translate into actual policy. Let them know that healthy eating options will be subsidized or completely free of charge. Also, make sure that you consider adopting a corporate food plan if you have a cafeteria.

Conclusion

Making sure that your employees adopt healthy eating habits is not only an investment in their well-being but in your business as well. If you want to enjoy a happier and healthier workforce that will run on all cylinders, make sure to make healthy eating a must in your workplace.

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Management

How to Make Money from Home as a Freelance Writer

self publish a book

If you have ever considered becoming a freelance writer your first and biggest question is probably “how do I begin making money as a freelance writer”? Knowing where and how to look for jobs is the first step in your freelance writing career.

There are plenty of ways to get paid but in this article, we give you 5 of the best methods for getting work as a beginner freelance writer.

Enter Writing Contests

Writing contests are a great option for freelance writers of any experience level because they do not differentiate between beginner writers and established professionals. Winning of these would be a great achievement for any resume and are sure to spruce up portfolios.

There are many competitions open to the public so do your research and see what opportunities are available to you. Prizes range from small cash payments to publications of your written works. Many of these competitions are free to enter so take the opportunity and submit your works today.

Job Boards

There are many ways for freelancers to make money online, you can find out more here. However, a common beginning point for freelance writers looking to get their first clients is to pitch for jobs on job boards. It is as simple as registering for an account and filling out applications or bidding on jobs. There are a ton of wiring jobs available on these boards and the clients are looking for people with a base level writing ability and a strong work ethic.

Start a Blog

Every writer needs a blog and these days bloggers are monetizing their blog through affiliate marketing. Running a blog can benefit you as a writer in many ways including contributing to your portfolio, creating lead generation, build up your credibility and give you confidence as a writer. Your blog will help you develop your style and target audience. The goal to successfully monetizing your blog is to pick a successful niche and developing a strong social media presence.

Guest Post

As a writer you should be following and supporting other bloggers and their sites. Consider pitching a guest post to your favorite authors. Most blogs accept guest posts and a lot of them are willing to pay for quality content from their guests. Before you send your pitch make sure you take the time to research the blog extensively. What is the style of writing? What is the niche? Develop a pitch that fits in nicely with site you are hoping to guest post for.

Self-Publish your Own Books

Amazon Direct Publishing has made it easy for writers of all experience levels to self-publish paperbacks and ebooks. The best part is that it is free to publish through KDP. Al you have to do is upload your book and wait for people to start purchasing it. Write about your book in your blog and post it all over your social media accounts to help gain some traffic and awareness. With KDP you can earn up to 70% in royalties, keep control of the rights, set your own prices and make changes to the book at any time.

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Management

4 Tools That Will Help You Keep Focus in Meetings

stress ball

Keeping everybody focused on any kind of meeting can be quite a challenge. People are easily distracted and they get bored, especially in long meetings that drone on. However, there are some tools that can help keep focus during a meeting.

Did you know that whiteboards are a critical part of meetings nowadays? It’s one of the focus tools we will look at today.

Visuals

One big help when it comes to the meeting is anything visual. There is a reason why people use tools like PowerPoint, graphs, images, and other types of visuals in meetings – because they help keep focus much better than words alone.

Have you ever been in a meeting, or maybe listening to a school presentation, where a person drones on? It can get boring if a person relies solely on words to get a point across. It can become boring and hard to focus on.

However, when you add snazzy visuals and colorful graphs into the mix, it helps to catch the eyes of those watching and listening. It also helps provide a minor break from word-only presentations that are hard to focus on.

Visuals always help with presentations, not to mention that they are great for getting across points and hammering them home, points out that words alone have trouble getting across.

Recording Device

One of the tools that can be used to help keep focus in meetings is a recording device of sorts. This could be anything; as long as it allows you to record a meeting, it should work fine. This could be an old-school tape recorder, a phone, tablet, or anything else that can record voice.

The point here is that during meetings, people often try and jot down notes and write down what the speaker is saying.

However, this actually distracts from the task at hand, because when people are writing notes, they are n’t listening or taking in additional information. It is actually pretty hard to take a new point in when you are also writing the last point down.

Therefore, a recording device to record all things said in a meeting can come in handy.

Instead of having people write down notes and lightning speed and not absorb information; people can actually listen to what is being said. Then, instead of referring to notes for reference, they can simply listen to the recording.

Stress Ball

This might seem like an odd tool when it comes to helping people keep focus in meetings, but it does work. Some people probably wouldn’t qualify stress balls as being tools, but in reality, they are.

Stress balls are those little softballs which people have in their hands and squeeze to relieve stress. They might be stress relief tools, but this is exactly why they can help people focus.

People don’t listen well when they are stressed out, and a stress ball helps to combat this. Furthermore, many people have to be doing something with their hands, which is why they invented those fidget spinners that were a big deal last year. It’s hard to focus on a meeting when you are constantly looking for something for your hands to do.

A stress ball in your hands can solve both of these problems quite adequately. Make sure you don’t get a noisy one, or else everybody else in the meeting room will not be happy with you.

Whiteboard

When it comes down to it, one of the most useful tools to help keep people focused during a meeting is undoubtedly the whiteboard. This has to do with our first point – that visuals help to keep attention.

Whiteboards are pretty big, they have great contrast between the surface and the colored markers, and they allow for great organization.

Whoever is leading the meeting can use various colors of markers to jot down the most important ideas, which are easy for everybody to see.

Whiteboards are also highly portable, so they can be moved from one meeting room to another. If you did not already know, whiteboards are becoming a staple of every meeting room and classroom out there today.

Conclusion

These 4 items or tools that we have discussed here today are fantastic for helping you and others keep their focus during meetings. It can be hard to keep focus, especially in a long meeting and in a room full of people. Hopefully, you can put these items to good use to increase focus and productivity.

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