Do your business systems work to grow your business?

Double handling of business information is a costly waste of time and energy. It undermines the company’s bottom line in misspent wages and redundant effort. When customers experience the ineffectiveness of such processes and the havoc they can create, there is a potential risk of them having an unpleasant encounter with the business. This will not only prevent their return but also stop them from referring the business to those in their circle.

The emotional experience of such waste can also be incredibly frustrating for staff as well. Mistakes are more easily made when those reworking the same bundle of files or information across several different places become bored and/or confused. Additionally, using ineffective systems that waste the teams’ time can send a message that their time is not truly valuable to the company. Ultimately, it can result in staff disengagement which in turn, can lead to high turnover and additional causes for poor customer service.

94% of problems in business are systems driven and only 6% are people driven” W. Edwards Deming

All of this will stymie the satisfaction of the owner, the fulfillment of team members, the confidence of suppliers and contractors, and the growth of the business.

How can I tell if my business systems are on track?

A business with well-integrated systems flows. Pathways for information are smooth and efficient, putting the data people need to work well right at their fingertips. Software which transmits data automatically makes error almost impossible, saving time, reducing frustration, and increasing engagement. If you have met this item in your business you likely have a dedicated systems management person in-house, or you have outsourced this vital business function to an expert service provider.

What do I need to stay on track with my business tech?

Having step by step instructions documented to ensure all members of the team always use the most effective way to gather and administer business data will ensure it’s handled well right from the start. Then having technology systems integrated to ensure this data is managed automatically will create the positive outcomes you’re looking for in your business. If you are like most business owners, you won’t be a tech whizz. See out assistance to map out what is happening now in your data management processes, then get them to help you map out how you want things to run. Then pass that plan onto someone with the technical know how to implement it into your business.

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If this article has struck a chord with you, please go right ahead and message me. I would love to hear more about what you do, and how I might be able to help you transform your business into the Freedom Machine you have wanted all along. Let’s establish a proven system in your business to create team certainty and sustainable expansion which open pathways to the lifestyle choices you’ve worked so hard for. No matter where you are, I am only a message away. Contact Me HERE 🙂

Business management trainer Melbourne based

Hearing Silence From Your Customers? Here’s Why.

Everyone knows great customer experience is at the hub of any successful business. Studies show that 51% of people who have a negative customer experience will never return, but 64% of customers say they will return to a business on the basis of good service over price, any day of the week. It’s important to get your customer service right. But how do you know if you’re going well?

 

If your customers aren’t providing feedback you’ve got no way to measure your performance. You can try to interpret your sales results for hints and clues but the better way to find out how you can improve your customers’ experience with your business is to hear it directly from them, straight from the horse’s mouth. 

 

Business management trainer Melbourne based

“A customer talking about their experience with you is worth ten times that which you write or say about yourself.”
― David J. Greer

The more information you get from your customers, the better you can perform. When you have accurate feedback from your customers you can increase their satisfaction to reduce your churn rate. Many businesses don’t do well at this, so getting it right will put you miles ahead of your competitors.

 

There are three simple steps you can set up to ensure you get feedback which keeps you on the up and up when it comes to providing a fantastic customer experience:

 

1. Earn it! (go over and above)

Why would a customer bother to give your business feedback if they’ve been disappointed by your service? Chances are you won’t hear negative feedback because the typical Australian response is to take these comments away from the business and share them instead with family and friends. Getting that feedback at all can be tough. Set yourself and your team up to earn great feedback by establishing crystal clear customer service processes so that the same excellent service will be delivered every single time. 

 

2. Ask for it! (again and again) 

Once you’ve earned that positive feedback, the next thing that you need to do is ask for it. This is a brave thing to do because if you’re going ahead and ask your customers what they really think about the experience they had with your business, then you may not be pleased with the results. But being brave enough to do that also means finding out exactly what the experience has been, which is the starting point of getting better. Knowing is better than not knowing so be brave enough to ask for feedback.

 

3. Reward it! (show your gratitude)

Go out of your way to reward the customers who have gone out of their way to provide you with feedback, even if their comments were not positive or not flattering. In many ways, this negative feedback is more valuable than any other because gives you insights to learn about the things that are keeping other potential customers away. You can set up rewards in any number of ways which will mean your system could look different from others. You could give out reward points, discounts, loyalty bonuses or even physical thank you gifts. Whatever you do, set up a simple and sustainable process that gets you rewarding any feedback you get. These comments are the gold nuggets of ongoing improvement.

 

Building a good product and marketing it well is the job only half done. Collecting customer feedback is critical to the growth of any business. Providing your customers with the levels of service they expect is important, but the only way to understand what your customers really want is by collecting and analysing their feedback. A lasting commitment to developing a customer-centric culture, followed by a fierce commitment to gathering, analysing, and sharing the feedback across the company plays a vital role in propelling your business forward. 

 

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If this blog has got you thinking about ways to make a difference in your business, please go right ahead and message me. It would be great to hear more about what you do, and the ideas you have for your business moving forward. I’m happy to answer your questions and love nothing more than to lend a helping hand along the way. There are always steps you can take to provide more certainty for your growing team, and sustainability for your business, and both of these things always create more freedom for you. Reach out today CONTACT US 🙂

The Right Time To Streamline Your Workflow

The efficiency of any office or operation depends on workflow. The better a manager clearly defines a regular process, the more efficient his team becomes. This saves overall work time, making the team more effective and able to do more with less stress or frustration. At the end of the day, efficiency leads to bigger bottom-line profits. To streamline work processes and improve workflow, assess the entire operation from top to bottom, looking for areas of improvement.

“To need a process and not install it, is like paying for it, without getting it.” – Ken Stork

 

If you don’t take the time to refine your business systems and processes, you will be paying costs across every area of your business. Without your systems and processes refined,  documented and delegated well, you will find that you’re paying a cost across five key areas. 

 

DOCUMENTATION OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: Let’s face it, professional knowledge and intellectual property are messy businesses. Valuable ideas don’t flow in a smooth, orderly manner from inventive minds. They come in fits and starts. They are hammered into useful products only through great vision and persistence. Likewise, the transformation of ideas into valuable intellectual property is an exercise in the management of chaos. If your systems and processes are not documented and laid out for everyone in plain black and white, there will be too much knowledge of business operations locked up both in your own mind and in the minds of your team members. Unlocking that information is to maximize it. 

 

OPTIMISATION OF BUSINESS PROCESSES: The second cost that you’ll be paying in your business if you have not refined and documented your systems and processes, is that of optimisation. Optimising a business process requires more effort than simply purchasing new software. It requires taking a critical look at an organisation’s operations and minimising the resources required to get things done. You might have a clear idea of what might be happening but if you haven’t mapped that out, and then look for ways to improve and optimise your processes, there will still be opportunities for improvement that are never possessed. There will still be money and time being wasted. There will still be confusion and inconsistency. So the optimisation of your operations relies on you prioritising the development and streamlining of your systems and processes. 

 

ABILITY TO AUTOMATE: The next cost you’ll be paying is in your ability to automate. Automation necessitates a certain amount of clarity about an effective system in the delivery of your products and services. If you don’t know the tasks involved and the people responsible for running the process, you can’t design and automate the workflow accurately. Unless you have a very clear picture of what the process looks like manually, you will not be able to build an effective automation of that process.  The insights you gain from analysing an automated process can clearly show you the gap between your process as it is and as it should ideally be.

 

OUTSOURCING: The next cost you’ll incur by not refining your systems is in your lack of ability to outsource. For most small business owners, outsourcing means having someone outside the business do work. But the inevitable question arises: how you do you make sure the quality stays the same? How can you possibly outsource a task that is not optimised, strealined or clearly documented? You can’t possibly pass on a task if you don’t have a clear idea of exactly what a good job looks like, what needs to be done to complete that task and how the person will know that it’s been done well. So, the opportunity to outsource can only be realised when you’ve got your processes documented and your tasks optimised. 

 

DELEGATION: Whether you’re outsourcing to third party suppliers, or whether you’re delegating to people in-house, a good job is one that is documented so well it can repeated by another. If the task is not repeatable by someone else then you simply cannot create a growing business. It is vital that if you’re growing a business bigger than yourself and you’re on a mission to roll out your products and services nationally and even globally, you stop and take a look at the infrastructure that you’re relying on to sustain that growth. It’s absolutely vital that you install the processes that you need because the last thing that you want is to be paying for processes without actually getting them. 

 

Streamlining your business removes wasteful or redundant steps to improve efficiency. In business, time is money, so a small business achieves key financial and operational advantages from streamlined operations. You reduce costs, attract more customers through nimble response times, drive higher revenue and compete effectively. When is the best time to streamline your processes? Asthe Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the second best time is today.” 

documented business systems and process

What’s Really Happening In The Culture Of Your Company?

Surviving the early days in your business can open significant opportunities for growth if you manage to establish a viable profit model and get some quality hands on deck to help out. From this business growth comes scaling, where processes and procedures need to be bedded down to create the cookie cutter systems required to multiply your business and create exponential growth. In these times, it’s common for business owners and staff members alike to develop feelings of isolation and disconnect. When the focus of the work is on standardising and duplicating operations, it is important to ensure your staff know just how important they are to you, and to the fulfillment of the company mission.

documented business systems and process

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” Simon Sinek, Start with Why

The number one reason employees choose to leave their employer for good is because they don’t feel acknowledged for their contributions. Studies show a whopping 79% of people who quit leave for this reason. Here are five things you and your managers can look out for to keep your finger on the pulse of how your team actually feel about their work:

HOW THEY SHOW UP

First of all, take a look at how your people show up each day. An actively engaged team will have low rates of absenteeism because they enjoy coming to work. They will start work on time, and should be encouraged to finish work on time to prevent burnout. You will notice that they arrive ready to go, fresh, motivated, and prepared with the equipment they need. Pride in their work will be reflected in how they dress, and how they manage their workspace.

LANGUAGE THEY USE

The way people speak at work also reveals their attitudes and motivations. People invested in your business growth will use encouraging, uplifting and productive language. They will focus on solving problems to achieve outcomes, and their conversations will foster a culture of collaboration, encouragement and support at work. Discussions marked by resentment, complaining, objections and gossip reflect you have people who may not be there for long.

ATTITUDE TO CHANGE

The response your employees have to change is a very clear indicator of their engagement in your company mission. When people are really invested in making a significant impact through your business they will appreciate the need for change, and they will embrace those seasons of change when they come. Whether the change is as simple as a new administrative routine, or a more comprehensive restructure, their response will tell you a lot about where they’re really at.

GENERATING IMPROVEMENT

If your team is genuinely invested in change, your company will be able to move with the times in responsive, proactive agility. Staff who embrace change will look for ways to expand into new areas of opportunity with a creative, innovative outlook. They will be free to generate and implement ideas for improvement at work, because they will pride themselves on being action focused problem solvers. Engagement like this will take you all to the top of your field together.

ACHIEVEMENT LEVELS

The achievement levels of your staff over time indicate very clearly just how positive your company culture really is. Setting up routines to monitor performance is the only way you and your leadership team will be able to ensure your staff achieve what is required to scale the business. Engaged staff meet and even exceed their KPIs, and set their own goals for advancement. Positive attitudes result in positive actions you can acknowledge and reward.

 

Business building can be so demanding it puts your team spirit at risk. When you are focussed on increasing revenue, lowering your expenses, rolling out new products and launching new advertising campaigns it can be hard to find time to attend to the needs of your people. These five tips will help you focus quickly on how things are really going as you scale your business.

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If this article has struck a chord with you, please go right ahead and message me. I would love to hear more about what you do, and how I might be able to help you transform your business into the Freedom Machine you have wanted all along. Let’s establish a proven system in your business to create team certainty and sustainable expansion which open pathways to the lifestyle choices you’ve worked so hard for. No matter where you are, I am only a message away. And to make things really easy, contact me here https://www.kerryannenelson.com/enquire-now/

Five Reasons You Should Get A Real Job

“It’s so frustrating! I want to follow my passion like you’ve always said but I’m not getting anywhere. I can’t afford it.”

My son is a highly talented musician who is also incredibly skilled in computers and techy stuff like that. We bought him his first drum kit for his second birthday after watching him in nappies, at one year of age, that he could hold a beat with perfect technique. Now, at 23 years of age, he makes electronic music and plays clubs and gigs in our home city of Melbourne. He doesn’t just love making music. It’s who he is. And like so many creatives out there, he is frustrated by lack of funding in the pursuit of his dream.

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position,” John C. Maxwell

“You will need to get a job,” I replied. “Your dream is your responsibility, but so is funding it.”

This same philosophy applies to any heart-centred, soul driven business owner who started their business to make their dreams come true, but who keeps hitting cash flow roadblocks. The brutal realities of the marketplace make this pursuit like chasing a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You want to roll out your products and services far and wide, and you are driven by the deep conviction that this is your life mission. But you just can’t convert your prospects into profit, and your back is against the wall.

You might have a challenge with advertising, problems with your business model, a need for more leads, or a lack of clarity around how to package your offering. You might find it difficult to maintain consistency with your client care, struggle to manage your social media, or find yourself drowning in confusing, overwhelming admin. Whatever the problems you face behind closed doors, the simple reality is that if you had enough revenue you would be able to keep going. The breaking point for the businesses that don’t make it through their first three years is always in their cash flow. Businesses fail when there is not enough money to continue.

Finding employment doesn’t have to mean walking away from your business dreams altogether. On the contrary, it might be the very thing you need to keep up the chase. You could work after hours, part time, leaving just enough space to keep the flame of your business burning ever brighter. Here are five reasons why you might consider biting the bullet and getting a real job:

1. Pay your bills!! You don’t want to let things get so far behind as to default on overdue payments or lose accesses to essential services.

2. Fund your business growth. Whether you need business coaching, a new website, new equipment or more stock, growth money must come from somewhere. If it’s not coming from sales, why not bring it in from a reliable, predictable salary?

3. Get some sleep. A job could release the pressure valve just enough that you could catch some long overdue Zs. Take the time you need to rest your body.

4. Reset your mindset. The relief of having a little bit of money again might make you realise that you have worked yourself up into a frenzy trying to complete your life’s work overnight. This is not a sprint, but a marathon. Let time work its magic.

5. Build your infrastructure. When you are desperate for sales in your start up business, all you chase is sales. This is understandable and in many ways necessary, but it undermines your ability to build the management structures and systems you need to sustain your business growth. If you can earn enough money to just scrape by for a while, your future self will thank you for investing time, money and headspace into the big business you have always dreamed of.

Honestly, if it’s cash you need, consider getting a job. You heard me! If you’re building a business from scratch and you are not making enough money it’s time to admit that it’s not working just yet, and you need to meet your financial commitments. There are far too many great businesses that suffer unnecessary demise because the owner was too embarrassed or too naive to take the courageous step to rise to the responsibility of funding the creation of their opus. This is your legacy. Own it and nurture it through every season.

Become The Captain Of Your Growth

One of the most powerful attributes of the small business owner is the passion they have for their work. People like you work night and day to roll out their offering and expand their reach into increasingly larger segments of the market. I love owning and running my small businesses. Having lots of pots on the boil and managing my team towards bustling productivity is certainly the life for me. I take pride in managing my systems well, and love when I see the grand plan come together to achieve the outcome I have been crafting along the way.

While your passion for your business is certainly an asset which propels you through your toughest days, it has the potential to trip you up in your ability to drive your businesses to new growth. Many small business owners are so passionate about their products and services that they become tied to the work of delivering these, which essentially sees them working night and day IN their business, rather than stepping ahead of this motivation to work ON their business as the captain of their own ship.

They key to small business freedom is to set up the systems and processes that will transform the small operation you have now. To prepare yourself for the task of transforming your core business processes, you first need to take inventory of the work that actually happens in your business on a daily basis. You might be surprised at what you find by following these six preparation steps:

  1. Buy a brand new notebook and rule up the first few pages with three columns: time, task, duration, category
  2. Set an alarm to go off about every hour or two for the next 3 or 4 weeks
  3. At every alarm jot down the things you did in the previous block. Not every step, just the tasks themselves
  4. By the end of the four weeks you will start to see patterns emerging and categories you can chunk together
  5. Use these chunks to inform the restructure of your daily business tasks into well organised Business Departments
  6. Reorganise each of the tasks in your Task Journal so they are grouped together into their Business Departments

When you love what you do it is easy to forget that you don’t own a job, but a business. This business needs a manager who will rise to the task of building sustainable structures for growth. Systemising the routine tasks of your daily operations is the only way for you to free yourself from the daily grind and set yourself up as the leader who will steer their operations strategically through to limitless expansion.

Success Mindset Triad For Small

We all know the undeniable power of our mindset and the effect it has on our outcomes every day. Our mindset determines our expectations, our priorities, our goals, our actions, and how we feel about our situation at any given moment. This brain I have been blessed with sees things in systems, and when it comes to mindset, there are certain components of the equation that fit together to make things work for us. I’d like to sidestep my usual resource management thread in this article to take a quick look at the system that underpins all else in our business. I call it a Mindset Triad. These are the three components of a Healthy Business Mindset:

 “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right” Henry Ford

1.THOUGHTS: “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will” Zig Ziglar

The first element of our Mindset Triad is our thoughts. I might appear to be stating the obvious here, but our thoughts have a primary bearing on our mindset. Studies show we have about 50,000 – 100,000 thoughts per day which equates to 35-48 thoughts per second. But the thing here, is that the majority of these thoughts are not new. We largely cycle through the same thoughts day in, day out. Only 5% of our thoughts are actually fresh and hot off the press.

I’m tempted to digress here into the untapped potential most of us have hidden in our ability to create new thoughts which would undoubtedly create new outcomes, but I will refrain. Instead, I will simply say this: The tendency of our brain to put our thought patterns on autopilot, churning the same ideas through on repeat like a broken record, is actually an asset we can harness. What if we ensured that our thoughts were positive, empowering, liberating, daring, bold, and filled with hopeful expectations of success? The “thinking” component of our Mindset Triad would truly become a habit which continued to serve us regardless of the circumstances.

2. ACTIONS: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act, but a habit” Aristotle

While our mental scripts play a massive role in the management of our mindset, what we do with our time, our bodies, our responsibilities, our preferences and our impulses make a massive difference to our mindset. Our Actions then, are the second component of our Mindset Triad. How we act can lead directly to create a thought pattern. My actions can lead me to feeling proud, tired, deflated, or optimistic. What I do sends a message to me about me.

I often say that we are in the front row seats of our lives. We are our own first audience. If we see ourselves take a bold new step, we remind ourselves we are powerful to create change. If we watch ourselves stand strong, we prove to ourselves that we are steadfast and unwavering in our dedication. If we observe ourselves learning something new, we teach ourselves that we are flexible and agile and that we will not be intimidated by the price of progress.  Our actions write the script of our self talk, so we want to ensure that we see consistently ourselves travelling on the road to success.

3.FEELINGS: “We don’t have a Mental Health problem. We have a Feelings problem. We need to prioritise simply feeling good” Dr Rosemary McCallum. PhD

Our Thoughts and Actions certainly contribute directly to the health of our mindset, but these two vital elements contribute most to our feelings, which is the part of the “Mindset Triad” which allows us to experience reward. If we say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, or think the wrong thing, ultimately we feel bad. If that bad feeling were to continue, or to grow by adding more bad feelings, it wouldn’t be too long before we had a struggle with our mindset that would start to see us unravel at our very core.

Our Feelings are such a pivotal part of our Mindset Triad that we should give them much more focus than we tend to. I’m not talking about indulging our feelings in such a way as to become selfish, lazy, immature or frail. What I mean here is making it our top priority to think, do and say the things that make us feel good. It feels great to think we will succeed, and develop a confidently optimistic outlook about ourselves and our ability to do well, regardless of unexpected twists and turns. So we should focus on developing those thoughts and maximising the results. It also makes us feel good to work hard and win. We feel great when we take a bold step out into something new and pursue a pathway of victory regardless of trials and obstacles along the way. So we should give those types of actions a go more often, backing ourselves that we will prevail.

Keeping these three components of the Mindset Triad in balance is not so much about trying to equalise each part. Rather, success with our mindset will come to the Small Business Owner who realises that positive thoughts and positive actions all hinge on our ability to make Feeling Good our first priority.

3 Ways To Overcome Small Business Isolation

It is easy to develop a sense of isolation in small business, but the reality is there is an army of people just like you striving to enliven their passions through their business. Small businesses represent a massive 97% of all registered Australian businesses. Our nation is built on the thousands of diverse operations that keep our communities chugging along around the clock. Small businesses account for 33% of Australia’s GDP, employ over 40% of Australia’s workforce, and pay around 12% of total company tax revenue.  In 2015 small businesses created 40% of all new jobs for our Lucky Country. Small business is a vital part of the Australian economy.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb

Taking a closer look at the statistics reveals some surprising insights. While the vast majority of Australian businesses are small, sole trader operations makeup 61% of all small businesses, and an additional 27% of small businesses have less than five employees. These micro businesses and small operations are everywhere, functioning across countless industries and operating from creative and resourceful outlets.

Finding this army of small business soldiers is easier said than done, with so many working from their kitchen tables, garages, or small workspaces that are affordable but private. For the sole trader, keeping expenses low and profits high is a balancing act that takes priority over all other business aims. While this is completely understandable, and essential, this important effort to manage expenses can have detrimental effects on the business owner. As human beings, we have a core need of social contact and relationships to maintain personal balance. We all need people in our circle to discuss concerns, brainstorm questions, vent frustrations, and celebrate wins. Having a second opinion is always smart idea, as is seeking the advice from a trusted mentor to brainstorm the things in life that puzzle us. This is true for people in service and retail, men and women, young and old, introverts and extroverts. As people, we need other people.

If you are reading this and have the feeling this article has been written just for you, then let’s get busy making a shift here for the better. Here are three ways you can come out from behind the veil of your business and get some social sunshine on your beautiful face:

Get Active On Social Media

If time and money are pressing, the fastest shortcut to increased social interaction is right here in LinkedIn and Facebook. Building up your connections through these networks will create and engage a team of people happy to flick through their newsfeed and respond to the exchanges you initiate. Asking questions, sharing stories, posting high value tips and advice will do the trick for ramping up your social contact just perfectly, without you even leaving your desk. It will also do wonders for your business. Get your contacts raving about your business and build up your reputation for the online world to see.

Get Out Networking

You could never convince me you have no way of making new connections in your local community. There are endless ways to find social events that are happening in your town every single day. You can ask Google about events in your city, sift through Meetup.com for groups that suit your interests, check out your local council website, or go old school and read up local events in the newspaper. If you are like me and you are mad about business, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many people are just like us. Business events are a dime a dozen, and when you have found a few good ones, you’ll be expanding your influence and making friends all at once.

Reconnect With Your Loved Ones

When was the last time you had a quality conversation with your friends, parents, kids, cousins, or dare I say it, your partner? Studies show that small business owners spend long hours either at work or thinking about work, which spills over into the relationships we share with our loved ones. Investing in the development of a strong foundation rewards us with benefits in our physical and mental health, giving us the refreshment and support we need to sustain lasting gains in our business. Scheduling time for the people who mean the most to us is a sure fire way to replace feelings of isolation, stress and overwhelm with connection, peace and confidence. These are essential for success not only in business, but in life.

Your Business Baby

Many of us who are business owners have also been parents, nurturing our newborn from the moment they take their first breath, then supporting them for as long as we can through to adult maturity. Our work in growing our small business is very much like the journey we take with raising our children. From the early stages of conception through to the powerful strides of maturity, our businesses depend on us to craft a safe pathway for expansion through to the fulfillment of the their potential.

“Growth is the only evidence of life.” John Henry Newman, Leader of the Oxford Movement, Catholic Cardinal

Newborn

The birth of our business is like the birth of our bouncing first baby. With delight we watch this bundle of joy draw its first breath and we are filled with blissful, naive wonder. Yes, it is a living thing, but no, it cannot function at all on its own. The business name is registered, the logo designed, domain bought, and business cards printed, but this brand new business does nothing without our involvement. Every single part of this life must be nurtured, nourished, supervised and attended to. This newborn business relies totally on us providing everything it needs to survive this highly vulnerable stage. We work around the clock to sustain the business, and it is so young that it is nowhere near able to sustain us. This is our calling. This is our mission. We intend to give it our all.

Infancy

From first days of our baby business being born we work hard to provide the nourishment that the business needs to grow. We develop our pricing plan, business offerings, sales and marketing strategy, and our oh-so-necessary social media profiles. In these first months it is vital we invest heavily into developing the structures that will sustain the business as it grows. There was a time when you didn’t know what you didn’t know, but now the writing is clearly on the wall.

As you gain more clients you will need more efficient systems of customer service to deliver your offering, earn client referrals and testimonials, and have them coming back for more. Increased trade will have you performing more transactions so you will have to develop effective record keeping strategies and gather business data to track your performance. And as you encounter increasing administration needs you must establish routines which keep work flowing productively and without bottlenecks. You will need to take great care that your business growth does not push your expenses beyond what you can afford, or you will face the heartbreaking demise of your business before you ever really began.

At this point the bubble has burst and you start to question that commitment you made to give it your all. But still, you press on. This is your passion.

Childhood

If you have done the work of building your early business systems your bundle of joy will continue to grow and expand. It is a relief to see that things aren’t quite so desperate as they were before. You might even squeal in excited amazement as you watch your business take its first steps towards independence. The first automated sale. The first staff member. The first repeat customer. The first profitable year. The first real weekend off! These first years in business can go as slowly or as quickly as you can plan for. The better the systems, the faster the progress towards maturity, and the more your growing business has in it’s backpack to get itself through the day.

Adolescence

With our business continuing to hum along on the strength of our systems we reach a time where life gets easier. The taxi runs of adolescence are not quite as demanding as the infant’s mid-night feeds or early morning teething problems we once faced. But when the adolescent business has a moment, oh boy, do we feel it!

We have come to expect that our business doesn’t need us quite the way it used to, and there is liberty in that for all of us. Your staff know what to do, how to do it, and when they have done it well. Your automations run along as smooth as silk, maintaining your records, facilitating sales, delivering your offering, and boosting your advertising and marketing for you.

And then the adolescent hissy fit hits! Your system crashes. Your staff get sick. Your ads don’t work. Your shop is flooded. You miss your sales targets. Your expenses go up without your say so. And you reel…

And then, you recover. You strengthen your position and give your growing business more of what it needs. New approaches. Responsive wisdom. Adult leadership. You nurture your adolescent business through to maturity.

Adulthood

This journey continues on for years. Each of us have different ideals which guide our business aims. If we’ve done the job of raising our business well, we’ll increasingly see the fulfilment of these pursuits. Our operations will be robust, resilient and responsive to change because we will have developed the people and the systems to sustain this business health. A business that is strong with stability, alive with vitality, and far reaching with its impact will become this because the business owner set out to build the systems that would grow something bigger than themselves.

Would you join me on your own fast track to running this type of business? My mission is to stretch daily beyond my current capacity into driving an operation greater than I am, and to take as many people as I can with me. I can see the mountaintop from here. I can feel the breeze on my skin and the sun shining on my face. It is alive and real in my mind’s eye, and I bring it to fruition every day in my relentless dedication to building systems for growth. I will have a mature business which offers new possibilities for the future for my staff, clients and partners.

Morning Like A Boss

For many small business owners our days are filled with action. Important meetings, pressing deadlines, urgent priorities, and then those surprise situations which push themselves to the top of the list. How we start our day has a massive bearing on how we continue. By creating a productive morning routine as a structure which never changes we can run our mornings on autopilot. This is productivity without the pressure and it has massive positive effects which snowball the benefits into the rest of our business growth.

Now that your eyes are open, make your sun jealous with your burning passion to start the day. Make the sun jealous or stay in bed. -Malak El Halabi

Studies show that our will-power is strongest first thing in the morning. We are more alert, more focussed, more positive and more willing to roll up our sleeves and get stuff done in the morning than we are at any other point of the day. This is the perfect opportunity for the small business owner who needs to make the most of every moment to stay ahead of the curve. I love my mornings. I get so much of my most important routine work done in those first couple of hours of the day. For me, this is the structural maintenance stuff that I need to keep everything humming along while I grow. The basics that must be attended to or else I would land myself in hot water.

I have encountered two horror stories recently in the area of accounting. A business consultant friend of mine told me the first troublesome tale. They were working with the owner of a big company without routine processes to maintain their accounting which landed them with a Xero account that was bursting at the seams. Over 2000 unreconciled transactions which needed to have accounts set up, reconciled and invoices matched. It was a management disaster that took them months of unproductive time to sort out, and some additional headaches with the ATO.

The second sad story came from a client of mine who needed help with organising her business accounting. I sat speechless as she showed me through three years worth of start up business transactions spread over three different bank accounts, with two of them mixing personal transactions in with her business ones. I helped her create a basic structure for her chart of accounts and advised her to make the management of her accounting part of her daily routine. I then sent her off to her accountant to square away the items I’m not qualified to help with. She had a massive admin task on her hands, and again the stress was multiplied with the ATO chasing her up for overdue returns.

Now I am no accounting expert and I lean heavily into the support of my accountant for the management of my taxes. But I am the only one who can be responsible for managing my daily business transactions and maintaining accurate, up to date business records. We must start out as we aim to continue. There are ongoing business admin tasks that can quickly become chaos if they are not managed regularly, but I have found that there are plenty of jobs which disappear to almost nothing like fairy floss dissolving in your mouth if you do them daily.

I know plenty of people who rave about the benefits of self care time in the mornings. Yoga, meditation, work out, reflections and gratitudes are high on the list of “Great Ways To Start Your Day” for lots of business gurus. I agree these things are a priority, but I personally start my day on my phone, flicking through several apps to manage my accounting, social media, emails and team members. My morning routine goes like this:

  1. Open my calendar to review what I have scheduled for the day
  2. Hootsuite on my phone to push scheduled content through to Instagram
  3. Open Xero on my phone to reconcile transactions from the day before
  4. Open Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram on my phone to check and respond to Social Media notifications
  5. Open GMail on my phone to take a quick scan of anything urgent I should attend to when I first sit at my desk
  6. Open Meetup on my phone to check event notifications and messages from members
  7. Open Slack on my phone to check in with my team
  8. Then, I go outside for a run or some yoga, or head to the gym
  9. Make a delicious healthy breakfast that will see me through to the afternoon, if not all the way to dinner
  10. Open my computer and get into emails. I was in there the day before so there’s no build up

This routine literally takes me about three hours, and sets me up to manage the tasks which build up to overwhelm if we don’t stay on top of them. My assistants have very clear Routine Documents which spell out exactly how they are to start every day too, and then each of their routine items are scheduled in RTMS, our business process software. Nothing is missed, payments are never late, tasks never get out of control, people are contacted regularly, and all is well with the world.

You can set up your perfect morning too by following these three steps … And if you do number four, you will be able to delegate some of your morning work to really get some momentum going:

  1. LIST the routine things you need to do on a daily basis to keep on top of them
  2. SCHEDULE that list for every work morning
  3. TIME the list: how long does it take you to cover your basics? This is how long you need for your Morning Routine
  4. DOCUMENT how to do each step of the items in your morning routine that need to be done but not necessarily by you