Stay fresh in the net
We live in a world in which more people are connected than ever
before. Smartphones, tablets and laptops are now integral to our
everyday lives. How is your business faring in the digital universe?
Make sure that your business' digital footprint is still stepping out
even when you've closed up and gone home for the day.
Be where they'll look for you. First, how wide is
your business reach? Are you strictly seeking local business, wanting to
convert drop-by and passing trade into enthusiastic repeat business? Or
do you have a wider geographical reach, seeking regional, national or
international business? Either way, make sure people can find you, see
what you have to offer and connect with you easily. Have a clear vision
of the kinds of networks most likely to reach your ideal customers and
the kinds of listings, social media or search terms they will use to
look for your goods and/or services.
If they search will they find you? Pretend you're
someone looking for the goods or services your business offers. Google
those goods and services. Does your business come out on top? Is it even
in the first page of search results? If not, it might be time to
rethink your search engine optimisation.
What are they saying about you? Can you see any user
reviews? Are they favourable or are there opinions you want to turn
around? Take action and follow up where you have unhappy customers.
Could your reach be wider? While you're googling
yourself, do the same for some of your competitors. Are they connected
with sites, networks, or directories that you hadn't heard of? Would it
help your business to be listed there too? Does your current reach
support your plans for growth or are you ready to plan the next step?
If you ticked the web off your marketing to-do list when you got a
website and Facebook page, your web presence may look dangerously like a
placeholder rather than a vital link with customers. Take its
temperature. Keep it fresh.
FYI… Search engine optimisation
Search engine optimisation or SEO helps your site
rank as highly as possible in search engines. The ways it can do this
have been changing over time to keep up with Google and other search
engines as they adapted in a changing online landscape. When it ranks
your site, Google will factor in some 200 factors, including site speed,
backlinks (links pointing to your site), social media signals and site
A basic approach used to be to just stud your site with links and ask
others in your network to link to your site. This isn't how it works
anymore. This approach can work against you as search engines can
penalise your site for potentially spammy links. Updating your site
regularly is a good strategy. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly –
this is a factor in your search ranking. If you think your business
should be more visible in searches, this might be a good time to connect
with an IT professional who can bring your site up to speed.
'Dear optimist, pessimist, and realist -- while you guys were busy arguing about the glass of wine, I drank it! Sincerely, the opportunist!' Lori Greiner
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Stress – beating it to the punch
Stress is a sneaky wee thing. It can creep up on you completely unaware, knocking you down when you least expect it. If you're busy it's easy to forget to look after yourself. It is all too easy to let things get on top of you. However, looking after number one doesn't have to be difficult. The idea is to prevent stress, before it presents itself.
Get Moving. We're not saying you have to take up boot camp or run a marathon, but simply get your body moving. Take a long walk in the weekend, try swimming a few laps in a pool or simply park further away from the office and take the stairs, rather than the lift, where possible. Exercise has been proven to clear the mind and boost energy levels.
Make a list and write down what you have to do and in what order. Work your way through the list one task at a time, from the most pressing to the least important. You'll be amazed at the way a list can clear your mind about the day or week ahead, not to mention how motivating it is to cross each task off!
Step outside for some fresh air and vitamin D, both of which are hugely underrated. It's likely that in this day and age, your office is fairly mobile. If you can, take your phone calls outside or reply to a few emails on your smartphone. If you don't get a chance to take your work outside, make sure you take a five minute break or a walk before or after lunch.
Book a ticket and flee. That's right, take a break. Reserve a seat and go. It may only be for a weekend or you may choose to take some of that well deserved leave. Either way, by stepping away and shutting off for a time, you're bound to return refreshed and revived with more energy. Ward off that burn out!
Be aware of what it is that usually makes you stressed in the first place. Think back to previous situations when you've felt like things are getting a bit much. What is the trigger? By shining a light on what instigates your stress, you may be able to see it coming and deal with it more promptly in future.
Stress can still break its way through, despite your efforts to stay on top of it. Remember to take a deep breath and if need be, take a step back. Things will only get worse if you're not around, so remember to take care of yourself first.
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KPIs – keys to success
When you look at your numbers, do you see how you're doing? Do you
see how close or how far away the business is from realising your goals?
What are you measuring that will tell you whether you're racing or just
revving the engine?
What are your key performance indicators? And how many of them are there?
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the measures your business uses
to track progress against your business goals. Your KPIs relate closely
to your goals and, if you are going to track performance against goals,
you need to be able to measure them.
KPIs need to mean something to you and your team so that the
strategic planning session doesn't just fizzle out under a blanket of
corporate-speak. You know the terms: efficient, effective, community
engagement, sustainability, productivity, blah blah blah.
They all meant something when they started out in life but unless
they mean something to you and your team right now, you may as well
watch your team slip gently into a deep sleep. What about the conversion
rate from quotations to sales? The average sale to new customers? The
number of stock outages or complaint rate?
Not every business is the same and not every business owner wants the same things. So each business' KPIs may look different.
Work on KPIs with your team
When you develop your strategic plan with your team and you work out
your goals for the next year, what are the factors that will indicate
most clearly how well the business is progressing towards meeting those
goals? Try and keep it to six or fewer for the business overall.
It may turn out when the team starts to talk about it that different
parts of the business measure their success in different ways. If you
find this, work out KPIs for each department (not too many) and make
sure it's clear how they feed in to the KPIs for the business overall.
If you know what your goals are but it's not clear how you will
measure whether you're achieving them, why not talk to us about working
out KPIs to suit your business.
Focusing on profit
Last issue we talked about Net Profit and what it tells you about profitability. Remember?
Net Profit = Total Revenue – Total Expenses
That wasn't the end of the story. As you know profit can be elusive.
It's important to know as much as you can about how to look at the
numbers to assess true profitability. Net profit margin is something
else to look for.
Net profit margin
When you know your net profit, you can analyse net profit margin. It
looks at net profit as a percentage of total revenue. In other words,
it's what proportion of revenue remains out of all revenue, after
deducting operating expenses, interest, and taxes.
Net Profit Margin = Net Profit/Total Revenue = (Total Revenue – Total Expenses)/Total Revenue
Why is net profit margin important?
Net profit is your bottom line after all and some business owners
might be content not to dig deeper. But if you don't, you won't know
what percentage of revenue ended up in the bottom line. Shareholders and
potential investors would be quite interested to know what it is
because net profit margin says how effective your business is at taking
revenue and making it into profits available to shareholders. If you're
trying to pitch your business to investors, net profit margin is a way
to grab their attention.
Keeping an eye on changes in your net profit margin is also a great
way to keep tabs on how profitable your business is over time.
How is net profit margin different from gross profit margin?
Let's go back to basics. Profit margin is a percentage that tells you the amount a company earns per dollar of sales.
Gross profit margin shows your total revenue minus what it cost the business to produce the goods or services it sold. It's the amount a company earns per dollar of sales after you deduct how much it cost to make the sale (aka cost of goods sold). It's a broad brush indicator of profitability and you can use it to help you work out your breakeven point.
Because you can be making more money but not as much profit (if, for instance, your overheads or your taxes go up), net profit margin gives you the next level of detail to help you zero in on profitability. It factors in other expenses beyond the cost of sale.
Net profit margin shows your profit as a percentage of revenue, after
all expenses have been deducted, including tax and any interest paid on
money you owe. It is the percentage of revenue that actually reflects a
company's profit per dollar of sales. If you operate in a competitive
market, bringing your costs down might be a better strategy than
increasing your prices, especially if in the short term it's hard to
increase your market share. A better cost management strategy,
consolidating your debts or finding a more favourable interest rate may
all be worth considering.
Your bottom line remains all important. But squeeze it to make it
tell you more so you can keep improving profitability in your business.
'The secret to my success is that I bit off more than I could chew and chewed as fast as I could.'
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Recruit a great team
High turnover can be costly, burning up resources for advertising and
recruiting and the time taken for training. Finding and maintaining a
dedicated team can be crucial for your business. Here are some tips to
ensure employee retention.
The right stuff
Dealing with unreliable employees is costly and aggravating, so
employ the right people. This probably sounds harder than you think, but
really it's not.
Take careful look at each CV, ask the right questions and ensure this
person isn't too quick to jump ship. This doesn't mean that you should
immediately disregard potential candidates who have had a bevy of jobs,
but perhaps ask reasons as to why someone may have moved around a bit.
Room to grow?
Try to look for someone who is willing to grow at this particular
stage in his or her career. And don't under-estimate the candidate's
ability to fit in with you and your current team culture. He or she may
be a star performer but if they're not a good fit in your team, it can
throw everyone's game off.
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Becoming an employer of choice
Like the bumper stickers say: be the change you want to become. How
to attract great people to you and how to keep them: the challenge is to
become an employer of choice. The rewards lie in a great team who
identify with your values and vision, enhanced profitability and
innovation. And let's not forget the sheer feel good factor.
Make the environment a good place to be by creating a healthy and
enjoyable working culture. This can encourage suitable employees to
apply for a position in your business, right from the start. Ensure the
culture complements your business. Are you trying to achieve a tight
ship or a more laid back atmosphere? Check in with the culture regularly
to make sure the team is happy and finding work an enjoyable place to
Invest in your team
Ensure up-skilling and training are available. We've talked about
this one before and there's a good reason. It creates loyalty in your
team, can help to ignite passion and of course, can solidify employee
retention. If you have the right staff on board, they'll see it as an
investment in their career and for you, it's an investment in your
Follow your lead
Be a good boss. Pay your staff accordingly and review pay at regular
intervals. Try to be as flexible as possible - nothing is more
frustrating to an adult employee than having strict rules in place. If
the work is being done and done well, there's no need to check your
watch when staff members are coming or going – allow for some freedom
with start and finish times or lunch hours. Remember that your staff are
human and have lives outside of the office.
Building and keeping a great team is possible. Be a better role
model, communicate well by being open and listening and, most of all
stay aware of your environment and your team.
An Important Message
While every effort has been made to provide valuable, useful information in this publication, this firm and any related suppliers or associated companies accept no responsibility or any form of liability from reliance upon or use of its contents. Any suggestions should be considered carefully within your own particular circumstances, as they are intended as general information only.