Linda Jenkins, July 28 2016
Improved Processes Can Help Your Company Scale
Business growth doesn't just magically happen. You don't snuggle into your fluffy pillow at night and awake the next morning with a booming business beckoning you to the office. Consistent, scalable growth comes from hard work, attention to sector trends, and a willingness to improve your acumen on an ongoing basis. One of the savviest ways to hack growth is to double-down on improving your processes.
A commitment to improved business processes doesn't mean hopping aboard the latest social media trend or foregoing revenue generation in favor of follower counts on networking platforms. Upgrading your processes means you make a concerted effort to build your company in a more authentic way with a focus on improving your own skills as a leader.
Improving your skills training can include anything from upgrading your critical thinking skills to learning best practices for payroll, or from learning new customer service skills to bettering your human resources department. Any endeavor you make to improve the way your company runs can have a deep and long-lasting impact on growth. Leaders who make a consistent effort to improve their time management skills have a decided advantage over those who approach the running of their businesses in a haphazard manner. Realizing that the refinement of skills can have a huge impact on company profits is often the light bulb moment business owners need to seek out professional assistance.
As the business landscape becomes increasingly competitive, it isn't going to be the company with the best product that survives. Everything from marketing street smarts to customer acquisition expertise can help a new owner out-maneuver a competitor. Today's consumer has numerous options at their disposal; mobile payment processing, artificial intelligence search engines, and access to global brands are just a few of the factors weighting the scales in favor of consumers.
Data from Statista Research indicates that by 2019, consumers will be generating over 3.6 trillion dollars in revenue for ecommerce retailers. When you realize that number does not include offline global sales, you understand just how competitive the business landscape truly is. An owner is no longer just competing with the vendor down the street; they're now having to out-source, out-price, and out-sell competitors on a global scale. When everyone from teens to seniors has a smartphone in their pocket, completing a sale with a competitor is just a few clicks away. The entrepreneur who succeeds is going to be the one that out-performs on every level, including the intelligence with which they run their company, and the processes they use to service their customers.
Gold Alliance Group offers a smorgasbord of online business courses to individuals with a deep yearning for consistent, repeatable business growth. With 1400+ course options, you can hone your skills to become a more strategic social media manager, learn how to better use the power of Microsoft Office 365, or even upgrade your risk management skills. How you improve the way you run your business is up to you; Gold Alliance Group simply offers access to a myriad of courses - you choose what is best for your business.
Linda Jenkins, July 10 2015
Successful entrepreneurs are also, without exception, effective leaders. A good idea is nothing without a good company, and a company can't be effective or profitable if it lacks effective leadership. The good news is that you don't need to be a born leader. You can learn to become one.
1. Learn to Say No
One of the most important things a leader must be able to do is to say no. Everyone around you, from partners to investors to employees, will want things that require action from you, and every action you take will cost you time, money and energy.
Saying no is not simply about denying people what they want, but making sure the things you do are worth your time. You only have so much to work with, so you must focus on what is absolutely necessary for your success and the success of the business. Delegate whenever you can, taking on only the most important tasks.
2. Learn to Listen Actively
The truth is that people want more than just to be heard; if it were, they'd just post on Twitter or Facebook and wait for re-Tweets and "likes" to roll in. Employees especially want to be heard. They want their boss's respect, and you should give it to them.
If you have employees, you probably were part of the hiring process and made the conscious decision to bring others into your company. You respected them enough to hire them, so pay attention, and respond to their thoughts and concerns. Actively listening to your employees (and others) will not only help you come up with ideas that you may not have found otherwise, but can also help to nurture and grow healthy relationships.
3. Be Inspiring
Successful entrepreneurs and effective leaders can inspire their followers. Those who work with you must have a passion for what they do and have a reason to follow your leadership each day.
Being an inspiration to people is not just about rewarding them or dangling incentives for doing tough jobs. It's about motivating them, earning their trust and making the passion you have for the business infectious. One of the simplest ways to do this is to be appreciative of the work people do. Look at what your employees have accomplished and show them what their successes mean for the company. Assure them that their efforts are important and they'll respond accordingly. Here is a great summation of the essence of leadership by General Colin Powell:
4. Keep Learning
If you don't know what you're doing, you're not going to be able to lead employees down a successful path, simply because you have no clear idea of how to get there. Stay up-to-date by reading about the latest developments in your industry. Learn new skills by taking classes. Even talking to people not normally in your social circle can result in new outlooks, knowledge and more creative ways to accomplish your goals .
5. Develop Your Emotional Intelligence
Your emotional quotient is more important than intellect in terms of leadership. Your EQ is a combination of self-control, self-awareness, empathy and how you connect with your partners and employees.
Developing EQ requires self-awareness. At the end of the day, consider the things that happened, how you felt when they happened, and how others must have felt. Make a habit of taking stock of the day's emotional impact. With practice you will become more aware of your emotions as they arise, allowing you to manage the urges that come with these emotions. You'll also find yourself to be more thoughtful and considerate of others.
Being an entrepreneur is one thing. Being an effective leader is quite another.
You'll need to constantly improve yourself, to become an expert in your field, and to manage your emotional intelligence if you want to inspire others.
Want to improve your leadership skills and build a scalable, profitable business? Learn how these elite courses can help you.
Linda Jenkins, March 09 2015
If you are a busy entrepreneur, you know that the best way to get more done in less time is to delegate effectively, but you may not be "closing the loop" on delegation. There are several steps to the process that must be done in order to complete tasks efficiently and avoid unnecessary problems. The following steps will help you to delegate with success:
First, define the requirements of the project. What tasks need to be completed? Are there multiple deadlines associated with it? Write out a brief bullet-list of instructions for completing the project.
Second, identify who will complete the project. Have they already completed similar tasks? Will they need more detailed instruction than what is on your bullet-list? Will internal processes or skills need to be improved before the project can be assigned?
Third, assign the project to the right employee or contractor. Provide clear instruction and request regular feedback on their status. Make sure the person you choose has both the skills and time available to successfully complete your assignment.
Fourth, follow up with your employees/contractors to ensure that they communicate with you as requested. Use tools to help you stay on track ( or simply set up Outlook or Google Calendar reminders to alert you when feedback and deadlines are due). Provide guidance as needed.
Following up on assignments you have delegated and continually communicating with your employee/contractor is essential to successfully completing your delegated projects on-time.
Top photo courtesy pakorn at freedigitalphotos.net
Linda Jenkins, December 12 2014
Success as a business owner can be elusive if you do not make certain key activities efficient. It does not matter if you have a brick and mortar, online or home-based business. It also does not matter if you sell services or products. EVERY entrepreneur must have a handle on these four pillars of operations in order to sustain long-term growth and profitability:
1. Getting and Keeping Customers
How well do you know your customers? You must be able to define the demographics, likes, needs and wants of your customers. Your products and/or services must help them solve a problem and save them significant time or money.
Having problems keeping customers? Concentrate on these factors to improve customer loyalty:
- Provide excellent customer service. Always exceed your customer's expectations.
- Everyone loves free stuff. Provide something basic and free that will bring customers back to your location or web site.
Get feedback. Make sure you are providing multiple ways for customers to provide you with feedback so you can continuously improve your products and services.
- Develop metrics around what customers care about. Measure business performance based on what is important to your customers (not just you).
- Give customers a reason to return. Provide discounts or other rewards to repeat customers.
2. Completing the Work
Maintaining the discipline and motivation required to complete all the tasks necessary to keep your business running is not easy; however, the downside of inefficiency in this area of operations is enormous. The longer your company takes to complete projects and tasks, the higher your costs and lower your profits will be.
You can ensure that work is completed with the greatest efficiency by making improvements in these areas:
3. Billing the Work
Adopting an efficient system for preparing bills, sending invoices and tracking customer accounts is crucial for getting paid faster. At a minimum, your billing system should allow you to:
- Establish payment terms (ie., net 30)
- Record customer contact information and related notes
- Customize invoices to display your company logo and contact information
- Create billing statements that detail the amount invoiced and payments received
- Set up memorized billing transactions for customers that you bill regularly
- Print reports on outstanding balances and aging on overdue accounts
4. Collecting Your Money
Small business debt collection is an unfortunate reality of dealing with customers. Eventually, you will encounter customers that refuse to pay or cannot pay. Therefore, it is important that you have processes in place to effectively deal with overdue accounts. You must also clearly assign the ongoing duties of monitoring accounts receivable aging reports and pursuing collections to a responsible party that can act with authority. First try to recover debt by calling the customer and sending past due notices, then graduating to a demand for payment letter if necessary. If these warnings go unheeded, be sure to establish a relationship with a collections attorney that can skip trace, pursue litigation and execute garnishments to recover the debt. For specifics on these processes, read When Customers Don't Pay: Tips for Collecting Your Money.
Determine which of these four pillars of operations is currently weakest in your company, and make improvements now to see the greatest positive impact on your profits.
Linda Jenkins, November 30 2014
Confident, effective leadership produces strong results and is one of the important factors keeping your business afloat. The following are the seven leadership attributes you should display as a successful small business owner:
Savvy business owners have a way of looking beyond the immediate, maintaining a vision that others simply do not have. You are not just focused on short-term profits, but on your long-term goals.
Your goals may seem out of reach right now, but that is not stopping you from reaching toward them. You display certain characteristics of an innovator, including calculated risk-taking, that sets you apart from the ordinary and places you among the extraordinary.
You regularly set goals for your business and employees, and align these with your overall business plan.
Honesty is the best policy. You understand that building trust means having a team that respects your leadership and models your behavior. Your customers appreciate your honesty and reward you with their loyalty and repeat business.
You create policies that discourage deceptive behavior.
While the term "Great Communicator" may not describe you, there is no doubt that your employees know where you stand and what you believe. You do not hide behind closed doors and you can be reached by your team.
Your team appreciates your clarity and your willingness to answer the tough questions. Employees and customers alike know where you stand and respect you for that.
You make time for personal interaction with both employees and clients.
Some business owners are beyond confident: they are cocky. The latter does not describe you.
Your confidence is built on a proven way of doing business, a tried and true formula that works. Personal confidence also means that you are keenly aware that mistakes, even failure, are possible.
You focus on the positive and keep your team focused too.
Though you use a tried and true formula, you are not afraid to change business operations if that will increase productivity and profits. Indeed, you encourage your team to express their creativity as well. You understand that employee satisfaction goes well beyond compensation.
You are not afraid to delegate projects. You welcome innovation and reward your team accordingly.
You stand by your employees, understanding that they are your most valuable resource. You invest in them through training programs and you have your strongest employees mentor the newest members of your team.
Although you would not hesitate to terminate an employee who is performing below par, you demonstrate confidence that the people you hire will shine when given an opportunity to do so.
You regularly evaluate each member of your team and seek feedback from them as well.
Great leaders stay the course even when the world around them crumbles. You will have good days and you will have bad days. You will also have terrible stretches that will test your mettle.
A business cannot anticipate every problem, but when a challenge arises an effective leader meets it head on. No shirking responsibility, no passing blame -- You understand the "own" part of being an owner and are obligated to see the challenge through.
Your team respects you as a leader and as a person.
Even as you concentrate on your attributes, your bottom line is strong. That is because you have your priorities in place and understand that profits typically follow sound business leadership and a love for what you do.
Want to hone your leadership skills? Learn about Excellerate Associate's advanced leadership programs.
For more words of wisdom on Leadership, read more on how to become an effective leader or watch this inspiring video by Bob Davids: