Should You Outsource?

outsourcing (1)

Many staffing options become available through the web in addition to traditional full-time employees. In fact, there is an increasing demand for virtual assistants, who live and work at another location. Your communication is often reduced to phone calls or email. However, utilizing contractors who work from home or are located in other economic environments can enable you to off load administrative work, which requires less skilled labor.

This pool of virtual labor consists of many types of people. Some are stay at home parents who can only work 10 or 20 hours a week from home. In many instances, these “part time virtual employees” are highly competent people whose focus on their family removes them from the conventional work force. Tapping into this resource can enable you to hire a top flight employee part time on a contract basis and eliminate the overhead of an onsite employee.

You can also use virtual assistants or companies that live in India, Pakistan, Romania, or almost anywhere around the globe. The current going rate for highly competent, well-educated labor is around $5.00 to $10.00 an hour. You can off-load and systematize some of the work in your business to these individuals or companies and still expect the same competency of work as you would from an onsite employee.

An interesting aspect to using labor in other locations is the time difference. Your virtual assistants may live in countries half way around the world from you which may enable them to accomplish work “overnight.”

The key to taking advantage of virtual assistants, outsourcing companies or any offsite employee lies in your business systems. Using your systematizing techniques, ensure that you have instructions well-documented for tasks you assign to off-site labor. Be sure to specify the format you require and any other details that are important to ensuring the work is done correctly. The clearer you can be about what you want and how you want it done, and the more systematized your outsourced tasks, the better result you will get.

Rewards and Incentives

A continual issue for many employers is productivity. Many methods have been tried to motivate employees to apply themselves to their jobs and encourage excellence in their work.

One successful technique involves offering rewards and incentives based on outstanding performance by either your company or by an individual. For company-based rewards, the achievement is shared company-wide. Everyone in the company receives a bonus. This sort of incentive generates increased loyalty and a sense of personal responsibility toward the well-being of the company.

Personal incentives reward individuals for outstanding achievements. If people do what is expected, then they receive their normal wage or salary. If they perform over and above what is expected then you should consider offering incentives to encourage this behavior. Incentives are an effective reward strategy and contrary to popular belief, most incentives are not cash-based.

To find the most effective incentive program for your company, do some research. If you are the owner of the company, do not make the assumption that you automatically know what they want. Ask them. Visit with your employees individually and ask them about what sort of rewards they would like if certain goals and objectives are achieved. Take note and listen. Most of the time, they will give you great information that you can execute based on their input.

One very effective reward strategy is peer recognition. Employees want to know that you have noticed their extra efforts. Pat them on the back and thank them personally. In addition, recognize their performance in front of their peers. Let everyone know the value they have brought to your business. For most people, this public recognition far exceeds a cash payment in motivational value.

With employee-based incentives in place, you will generate a more responsive workforce that you can count on to deliver what your company promises.

Take Action

As the famous marketer Dan Kennedy said: “Are you still collecting information or are you doing something”

This chapter collects a lot of business shaping information, so… “are you doing something?!” Adopt a few of the techniques I have described and implement them in your work environment. You will see an immediate improvement in all facets of your life and business.

Does your business drain your time and energy and not give you financial rewards for your efforts? Is this what you envisioned when you first opened your doors? If not, then you should review my Business Autopilot system. This system helps you regain some personal time and gets your staff “locked and loaded.” Defining what you want for your business ultimately adds asset value and positions you for the future. If and when you want to sell, your business will be worth substantially more than it is now.

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How to Get Customers to Trust You and Your Brand

shutterstock_102000970When developing your company’s position you can use a number of methods and resources. One very useful method is to find your “Stadium Pitch,” a concept first described in a book “The Ultimate Sales Machine” by Chet Holmes.

The Stadium Pitch postulates the idea that an entire stadium, let’s say the Telstra Dome in Sydney, is filled with 80,000 potential clients or customers for your business. You are led to the centre of the field, given a microphone, and told you can say anything you want to turn them into your buyers. A daunting task for many, but what would you say? What would be the first thing that comes out of your mouth?

Here is how I think most people would start. “Hello my name is Fred Smith, and I am very pleased to be here. I just want to welcome you to the stadium. Blah, blah, blah, blah…” By this point you have spoken for 30 seconds and have said nothing of interest to your potential clients. Everyone is already completely bored and half of the people are getting up to walk out. What can you say that will keep the people in their seats? An effective way of immediately gaining people’s interest is to tell them something that they did not know. Remember, these people already have something in common with you. They are potential clients.

What if you told them, for example, some of your industry’s statistics? Let’s say you are in financial planning. You walk to the microphone and you say: “Did you know that in the next twenty years, seven out of ten people sitting in this stadium will retire with less than fifty thousand dollars in the bank?” If you were in the audience, what would you do? Would you leave at this point, or would you sit there curious and ready to hear more? Of course you would choose the latter.

Taking this approach, you have spoken for maybe five minutes, and have kept everyone firmly riveted to their seats. At the same time, you have likely interested many of your potential clients to ring your number. When they do, you will have the chance to obtain their contact information to send them the reports. You have suddenly increased your mailing list of leads that may convert into actual clients.

Become an Expert

Another way to position your business in the market, as well as generate more clients and revenue, is to become an expert in your niche. Becoming an expert is deceptively easy; you simply declare yourself as one. You may feel this approach is unethical but consider, in your own business, you probably are an expert.

As an expert, potential clients and customers look up to you and regard your word as authoritative. Just be sure to have the right knowledge and experience and make that known to all too.

To increase your standing as an expert there are several methods you can employ.

Publicity

Use press releases to attract the interest of radios, televisions, magazines, and newspapers. Being billed as an expert by these media venues will help you gain notoriety as an expert in your field.

Author a Book

Writing a book used to be more difficult. But these days, you don’t have to be picked up by a large publishing house to be an author. You can self-publish a book quite inexpensively and use it as a marketing and promotional tool.

For instance, you want to write a book about the ten ways to increase your superannuation. A book on this subject of approximately a hundred or so pages can be both informative and entertaining. All you need to do is provide the basic information such as the outline or some notes and have a ghost writer write it. You can have the entire book edited, formatted and printed by professionals so that you end up with a high quality publication based on your concepts and ideas.

Another way to use a self-published book is as a giveaway in your store. This concept works regardless of the type of store or business. For example, if you have a fashion store, you can write a book about fashion. For a beauty salon, you can write about improving your image. For a mortgage broker, you can write about getting the best loan.

Having the book for sale at your business can be an effective marketing tool too! When potential clients see that you are the author, they will treat you with respect and buy from you with trust.

In addition, books have an element of longevity. If you send out a free report, no matter how nicely presented on A4 paper, it will likely end up in the dust bin in a matter of days. But a good book stays much longer. People even pass them around and may give them away, which makes them less likely to be thrown away. Also, books are surprisingly affordable and inexpensive to produce.

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How to Become a Better Manager

TeamworkOne of the “pearls of wisdom” that has stuck with me throughout my career is this:

“Thinking, talking, planning count for nothing – doing counts for everything”

Ultimately, in business, the company that is best at executing and delivering products and services obtains a huge advantage over the competition. Effective marketing and selling can attract customers, but your employees must deliver on what your company promises to retain customers.

Proper management of your workforce ensures that your employees are executing the mission of your company and following your systems and procedures. You can plan and design systems to infinity, yet if your employees do not implement them properly the result will be failure.

Here are some factors that contribute to shaping up your business for maximum success through execution.

Management Techniques

Most business owners and CEO’s have difficulty accomplishing everything that must be done in any given day. Two factors perpetuate and compound this problem.

  • Trying to do everything yourself
  • Trying to do many jobs at once

Both of these problems can be addressed and the personal execution of the work you really need to do greatly can be enhanced.

Trying to Do Everything Yourself

This first problem––trying to do everything yourself–– can be solved with relative ease. Just don’t do it. Get help. When you try to do everything on your own, you become a bottle neck to productivity and growth for your business. The only way for your company to grow is to expand your staff and outsource some elements of your business process.  From your point of view that means delegating tasks which do not require your personal attention. Your time is worth money and when you examine your tasks, you may find that others are not only better suited than you to accomplish a task, but that less expensive people can be utilized resulting in lower costs for your company.

When you want to get something done, evaluate the task on whether or not it can be delegated. If it requires your specific knowledge, determine if you can divide the task into smaller segments which can be delegated while maintaining control of the main project. Perhaps you can train someone, or have them report to you for critical decisions.  Examine all of your responsibilities with the goal of reducing your workload and ultimately the costs for your company.

Trying to Do Many Jobs at Once

Once you’ve solved the first problem, the second one––trying to do everything at once––is somewhat ameliorated. Delegating unnecessary tasks should have freed up your time for more productive leadership tasks which are critical to the growth of your company. Now, when addressing the remaining tasks, do not try to multi-task. The brain isn’t organized to productively manage tasks in this way and none of your tasks will be done really well or in the most efficient manner. Multi-tasking is the equivalent to taking longer to do many jobs poorly.

To minimize multi-tasking and increase your efficiency, focus on one thing at a time. Block time out to do one job and arrange to avoid interruptions. You cannot be answering phone calls, emails and have people knocking on your door and efficiently do anything else.

My preferred time-management technique is a simplified version of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done.” This technique involves managing your daily activities and tasks so that you accomplish as much as possible. David Allen’s approach emphasizes staying abreast of a heavy workload in a “relaxed manner.” For more information on his methods, you will find he has free articles and information on his website: http://www.davidco.com.

Focus

When you are able to focus on an activity without interruption you can accomplish far more than you can with constant interruptions. This concept works not only for you, but for your business. You should evaluate your business environment in terms of enabling your staff to focus. Do your work areas maximize concentration and minimize interruptions?  If you have a 9-5 environment, can your employees start working at 9:00 and work in a concentrated fashion until 5:00 PM? Upon careful examination you may find that your business environment encourages interruptions and reduces productivity in your staff. Your employees may only have a few hours each day that they can actually focus on their work.

To design a more efficient work environment, you need to consider several factors. If you have office workers, do they have a very clear defined desk space where they are able to focus on getting work done? Are there lots of miscellaneous papers and files lying around? These items contribute to drawing attention away from the task at hand. They distract attention from the work.  Ideally an absolutely clean desk with nothing on it other than a computer and any files necessary to accomplish a task is best. Everyone has their unique style for work, which should be accommodated whenever possible. By providing the appropriate tools and an uncluttered environment where your staff can focus will result in more work being done.

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Growth through Customer Care

Senior woman meeting with agentYour role as a business owner is to solve your customers’ problems.  Your ability to determine what your clients want and provide them with solutions is a large part of your success.  Part of getting you into your best business shape is increasing your effectiveness in coming up with good ideas on how to solve your client’s problems in a unique way.

To deliver, you should know your market and what your company can do. As the business owner and CEO, you are the solution.  Your client’s problems are just lying around waiting to be seen so you need to be receptive to those problems and creative about the solutions that you will offer.

For both you and your customer, things are changing faster than ever before. Technology has become more sophisticated, competition more keen, and consumers––the people who buy your products and services––have become more educated and aware.   You are in the unique situation to stay current on the latest technologies for your industry and use them in ways that show your customers that you can apply the latest technologies to solve their problems.

In addition, because your client’s choices are ever expanding, regardless of the industry you are in, it is very difficult to be either unique or less expensive.  What is important is the service your client receives from everyone in your business.  From the receptionist at the front desk to the accounting clerk in the office, everyone who talks to a client must provide them exceptional service and professionalism.    You can be the very best at attracting clients and even selling to them, but what will ultimately make the difference between success and failure is your service.

If you’re really going to be effective and successful in the marketplace today, it is necessary, even vital, that you continually change, improve, adjust and update your selling, service, and problem-solving skills, as well as your methods of marketing and general business operation. Keep in mind that:

“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

One of the best and most effective ways you can show your prospects and customers you care is by helping them solve their problems in a satisfactory, cost-effective, and professional manner.

Getting New Ideas

Since having ideas and recognizing opportunities are so crucial to your business, you need to do everything possible to heighten your awareness in these areas.  You also need to be able to use your knowledge of your customers and their needs, your industry and the new advances in your industry to come up with ideas for products and services for your business.

However, being exposed to a new idea is one thing, but what you do with it once you have it is just as important as getting it in the first place.

Studies on retention show that you remember:

    • 10% of what you read,
    • 22% of what you hear,
    • 37% of what you see,
    • 56% of what you see and hear, and up to
    • 86% of what you see, hear and do.

So an idea that is heard but not acted on is only half as likely to be retained as an idea that is actually put into practice and that means it’s going to take some effort on your part.

In their book, The Knowing-Doing Gap, authors, Jeffrey Pheffer and Robert L. Sutton mention that every year there are 1,700 new business books published, $60 billion spent on training, $43 billion spent on consultants, and our universities turn out 80,000 graduates with MBA’s. Yet, most businesses continue to operate day in and day out in much the same ways as they have always done.

Again, and this theme will keep coming up because it is so important, knowledge without action is no better than no knowledge at all. Just knowing isn’t enough. You’ve got to do something with what you to know.

The ideas presented here work. They’re not theories. They’re not speculations on what “should” work. And they’re not philosophical musings. These ideas, concepts and techniques are currently in use by business owners across the country in one form or another. They’re being proven in actual field use day in and day out.

They work for others, and they can work for you.  You are going to have to take the time to study them, understand them, and make the necessary modifications to tailor them to your own personal and business style and operation. And then finally, you’re going to have to apply them in your business.

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Five Steps of Learning and Retention

5879640_XLThese five steps will help you to get, use, and keep good ideas.  Learning is the acquisition of new information or knowledge, and retention is the ability to capture that information and recall it when wanted or needed. This can be broken down into five steps.

  1. Impact
  2. Repetition
  3. Utilisation
  4. Internalisation
  5. Reinforcement

Impact

First on the list is Impact or the receiving of the idea into your mind. Impact can be in the form of a word, a visual observation or a concept. It may involve new information, or it may be a new juxtaposition of old information. This mental processing results in a new concept of the world, however small that concept may be. Thousands and thousands of bits of information, loose ideas, and more fully formed concepts continually wash through the mind. Separating out the useful is the first step; it is all too easily swept away in the torrent of everyday thought. Retention is now the more important facility.

Repetition

To achieve that, the second step is Repetition. One university study revealed that an idea that was read or heard only one time was 66% forgotten within 24 hours. But if that same idea was read or heard repeatedly for eight days, up to 90% of it could be retained at the end.

So once you’ve read this article all the way through, go back and read it again. But this time read with a highlighter, a pencil and notepad handy. Mark up everything that needs to be highlighted. Write down the ideas you feel that fit your personal business situation. This repetition will help you retain more of the information than if you had read it only once.

Utilization

The third step in the learning and retention process is Utilization. This is the “doing” step. It is here that neuromuscular pathways are actually developed, creating a “mind muscle memory.” And according to the study quoted earlier, once you physically experience an action, it becomes twice as easy to recall it than if you had heard it only.

Internalizations

The fourth step is referred to as the internalization. That is to actually make the idea a part of you. That may involve some customizing or tailoring of the idea to fit your situation or style, but it is vitally important for you to personalize the idea and make it “yours.”

Reinforcement

The fifth step is Reinforcement. In order to maximize the effectiveness of an idea, you should continually be looking for ways to support and strengthen it. The more you can support the idea, the more you will believe it, the longer you will retain it, and the more effective it will become in helping you serve your customers’ needs.

Now, what does all this have to do with your business? In your daily business and personal activities, as well as throughout your experience, you are going to be exposed to a great number of ideas. Some will be brand new, that is, you’ve never heard them before. Some will be ideas you have heard in the past, but have forgotten. And others will be ideas you come up with on your own as a result of something that was triggered in your mind as you read. Understanding and applying these five steps in the learning and retention process can help you retain more of what you read and experience.

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