Determining the cost of a job accurately and efficiently can be challenging, overwhelming and fraught with risk. When you price a job right and win it, it can deliver instant improvements to your bottom line — but getting it wrong can be a very expensive mistake.
When my brother-in-law started his landscaping business in 2007, he didn’t expect his part-time operation to escalate to 50 hours of work per week within two months. And it was a big commitment for him to employ his first staff member six months in, but was necessary for him to meet demand. As soon as he was aware of the demand for the service he was offering, he prepared himself for growth and this planning quickly paid dividends.
Project Workflows should just…flow, right? Even Google Images represents ‘workflow’ as a series of harmonious shapes neatly connected with arrows... But in the real world things RARELY go according to plan. Remember that client who defaulted on payment, the tensions that arose within project teams and of course that one time the budget got blown out…?
Striking out on your own and starting a business is one of the hardest things you can do in your professional life, but the work isn’t over the second you open your shop. Once the business is up and running you constantly have to improve and optimize to stay ahead of the curve and, most importantly, to become — and stay — profitable.
We love curating list posts, especially list posts that feature apps and tools to help you work smarter. We recently published a post on handy browser extensions to improve productivity and get more done. This is one landscape that’s always changing however and we’re always looking to provide the most up-to-date and helpful information to help you achieve more. A conversation with a colleague sparked this particular post, and I hope you find it helpful – I certainly have.
The issue of bullying at school is well-known and reasonably well understood. But workplace bullying is just as big a problem. In the US, for example, 27% of employees have experienced bullying, and managers are the main cause.
Wherever you find people who are driven, ambitious and strong-willed, there’s potential for bullying. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that some of the people reading this are workplace bullies.
When it comes to building rosters you want to be as accurate as possible when forecasting future staffing requirements. Time again, we’ve seen rosters being created based on instinct and manager experience.
As a small business owner, it’s quite likely you play both the role of salesperson and debt chaser. On one hand you want to keep the relationship positive so you can continue selling to that customer, but on the other hand you need your bills paid for your business to survive. Maintaining customer loyalty and satisfaction while keeping a credit control policy that’s abided by can (at times) put you in an awkward position.
Cash is often referred to as the lifeblood of an organisation, a key factor that determines business success or failure. In many cases, cash is vital for daily survival; a small business that doesn’t have enough cash on hand to pay suppliers might not be able to open the next day.
Social media. It’s big, it’s fast, and it’s growing. What can you do to make sure you’re using the right social channels to connect with your customers and market your brand?
In this episode of Xero Gravity, hosts Elizabeth Ü and Gene Marks are joined by Mychelle Mollot, CMO at Klipfolio, and Raheela Nanji, Director at Ree Consulting Inc., to discuss all the nitty gritty details of social media in business.
When business is booming and everything’s going well, it seems fair to cut back on your marketing efforts. More business means less spare time, so investing effort in marketing becomes difficult, and easy to neglect.
Customer retention is vital for the growth and sustainability of any eCommerce business. The cost of acquiring new customers means building loyalty within your current customer base should take precedence.
With smartphones at our fingertips, customers are searching online more than anywhere else to research a product. As a small business owner, it’s critical that you have a website ready for customers who are looking you up. Understanding why it is important and figuring out where to start can be intimidating. Here’s what you need to know.
Xero Managing Director, Gary Turner talking about the importance of better support for small businesses at Xero’s annual conference in London last week.
By harnessing the power of the cloud and combining it with an increasingly mobile workforce, the cost of starting a business has never been lower. However, despite barriers to launching and running a business falling, productivity rates aren’t climbing.
Mobile devices give us convenience and efficiency. Like taking a quick photo of a receipt and submitting an expense claim while on a business trip.
But there are still times when you need the convenience of a larger screen. Sometimes you need to look at multiple things at once. Closing Xero to open a browser, your banking app, Dropbox, then jumping back into Xero does the job, but it’s not efficient.
Why small businesses should switch to inventory management software. How much is spreadsheet-based inventory management costing your business? Chances are more than you think.
Apple’s recent release of the iPad Pro has brought up the question again, can you replace your laptop with a tablet? For some early adopters, the answer is yes.
Xero CEO, Rod Drury, is among those early adopters. He recently made the switch and decided to stick with it. His motivations for doing so:
Procrastinators act as though they have all the time in the world. The truth is, the tasks we put off become the roadblocks that prevent us from moving forward. Breaking this behaviour is as simple as following a few practical tips that will put your time back under your control.
A strong service culture within your business leads to improvements in customer experience and can give your business a competitive advantage in your industry.
Because customers now have more choice than ever — making it even easier to switch suppliers or service providers — field service businesses must work harder and smarter to build relationships with customers and sustain long-term loyalty. Building a service culture within a company is an extremely valuable way to do this, as it leads to opportunities for higher growth and revenue and helps create strong relationships with your customers.
Change. It is the one crucial element an organization needs to be able to execute if it wants to remain relevant and profitable in an increasingly dynamic and challenging global economy. It is also the one vital element that generates the greatest amount of resistance, and throws up the largest number of obstacles to success, than any other business necessity.
Reading a book, finishing a project. Baking a cake. Playing with your kids, throwing a stick with your dog, discussing eastern philosophy with your cat, raising money for charity, writing that novel, painting the house, building your own boat, learning a language, Netflix & chill, making your own jam, mowing the lawn, playing Tetris on your cellphone, discovering an ancient Mayan treasure ...
With many products and services you can increase sales and attract large numbers of new clients by using personalisation.
Personalisation just means you modify what you are selling so that it has more value to a particular type of customer.
Mobile-friendly simply means that your website is compatible with a range of devices that aren’t desktop or laptop computers. This includes smartphones and tablets, which in themselves cover a wide range of screen sizes and resolutions. These smaller devices, especially smartphones, need a website to be attractive and brand-relevant while being functional and easy to use with one hand, a thumb, or several fingers. Multi-touch technology means that users often have a range of ways they interact with the screen, and your site must make it simple to navigate and interact to cover all bases.
We all know by now that it’s essential for a business to have an internet presence; a company website is the mainstay for anyone doing business in the 21st century.
But what about a company Facebook page, Twitter account or LinkedIn profile? Are you losing out on potential customers by ignoring these social networking heavies? Do you panic when you think about how your lack of social media savvy has caused you to miss out on reaching your sales goals?
One of the most frustrating things in life is when you get all fired up and decide to make some big improvements in your results.
So you set goals to get in great physical shape, improve your business results, spend a lot more time with your family etc.
Writing a fantastic blog is just the first part in the process of channeling more traffic to your site. To be of any value, it needs to be read and shared by your audience and beyond. Below are five of the most common and effective ways to give your content exposure.
What do Elizabeth Holmes, Sara Blakely, Linda Avey and Arianna Huffington have in common? They are all female entrepreneurs who have successfully built billion dollar businesses. But what does differ dramatically is their age.
If you are a business owner, moving your accounting software from “on-premise” to “the cloud” can bring huge benefits. Not only could you save bucket loads of time, but cloud accounting software is cheaper, more secure and accessible anywhere.
It could be one of the most asked questions by trade contractors: should I be focusing on my cash flow or my profits? It can be a difficult question to answer, as cash flow and profit both play critical roles.
Every business wants to make each year better than the last, and at Vend, we’re all for helping retailers do exactly that. So for this post, we’ve put together some action steps that you can implement to help make 2016 your best year yet.
Whether last year’s performance could use a lot of improvement, or you did extremely well and want to break your own record, the pointers below will help you kick off the year strong:
If you’re a busy business owner with lots on your plate, it can sometimes be overwhelming knowing where to begin. But if you try and do it all, things will undoubtedly get neglected, or you’ll find yourself dreading those painful hours when you have to trawl through hundreds of unread mails.
Here’s ten ways to make sure that you start 2016 with purpose, vision and the courage to super-charge your firm!
Does your business have a story? The kind of story that demonstrates your business is committed to upholding its values? This may be key in retaining staff and making them happy.
Surveys are great. They often provide you the down and dirty data needed to develop or validate a hypothesis.
Market research is another fantastic tool. It provides the broad net needed to understand the intricacies of who your target customer is, and what their pain points and needs are.
Businesses that boost the technical skills of their employees lift their productivity and profits, as well as improve worker satisfaction. Despite knowing this, most firms still suffer from skill gaps.
A recent survey in the UK found that while most companies accepted the business benefits that would flow from improving their staff’s digital skills, only 14 percent felt their staff training was adequate.
Effective and supportive management is a key ingredient in making sure your employees love their jobs. And one of the most important aspects of being a good manager is giving clear feedback to your team members. This is something you should be doing consistently throughout the year. But yearly performance reviews are the perfect opportunity to reflect holistically on what went well and what could use some work. Here are some tips for how to conduct constructive and effective yearly performance reviews.
Christmas is a great opportunity to relax and recharge, but if you’re like us, you might find it hard to just drop everything and take it easy.
Instead, you are just as likely to spend the first half of your long-anticipated break worrying about an unfinished project, checking your emails, and stuck with your brain in the office while your body is on leave.
The latest you need to know.
In today’s competitive marketplace, there is little room for error for owners and operators in the field services industry. Businesses are under more pressure than ever to deliver an exceptional service that aligns with what customers expect.
So you’ve made a New Year's Resolution. Several in fact. You’ve declared next year is YOUR year. Your business is going to triple, you’re going to be more productive, manage your teams better, nail time tracking on its head, and finally learn all those collaboration tools and apps you’ve been meaning to. You’ve got it sussed...or so you think until February rolls around, you’ve started none of the above and the year is about to slip past as it’s always done.
If January 2016 mirrors the years that have gone before, it will be the busiest month in the calendar for people starting a business. Returning from Christmas to an unfulfilling job and a burning idea to turn a hobby or passion into a way of making a living, people in their droves will take steps to become their own boss. Will you be one of them?
When building a business, it is important to learn as much as possible from industry leaders and people with experience. Fortunately, many of these people have written about their experiences and distilled their most influential and successful ideas into books. There are thousands of business books, each claiming to teach you something vital to your success. Below are some of our favourites and ones we find genuinely enlightening.
In a competitive market, customer loyalty is everything. Keep your customers coming back for more and encourage them to become loyal brand advocates, and profitable growth is a given.
Where to in 2016?
Customers. Without them, you wouldn't be in business. But sometimes they are the sole cause of all our stress and woe. That's especially true during busy times of the year, which for many industries is the leadup to the holiday season.
We all know that cash flow is king. But just how much sway does it have? Well, you might want to ask the nine out of 10 small businesses that have failed because of cash flow problems. That’s, right, according to D&B, 90% of small businesses close their doors because of poor cash flow management.
One of the biggest troubles small business owners face is access to capital. So activities like theft or fraud can cripple a small business in a heartbeat.
I received some excellent marketing advice recently from Lori Nash Byron the founder of Famous in Your Field. Lori was talking about the power of content marketing. And here a few of the tips she shared with me about content marketing.
When you sell an expensive or high priced service there are three marketing challenges you need to solve…
One of my favourite marketing experts is my good friend Troy White in Calgary Canada. 7 years ago Troy had an epiphany. He realized that the best marketing promotions he had done for his clients involved some wacky themes.
Blogging is one of the most valuable tools that a business has to engage with customers; it’s a direct communication channel to share timely and relevant information, plus, it fuels SEO for your business website.
Want to succeed as a small business owner? Have a mentor or an accountant. Our recent Make or Break? report shows that asking for help from mentors and advisors, and having a good relationship with your accountant, means you have a leg up. The research was timed to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week which kicks-off today.
The promise of free-shipping can seem too good to be true, and often it is suspected that the shipping costs have been absorbed into the price of the goods. This can sometimes be true, but with products that are available online direct from the manufacturer, it makes it harder for retailers to add their own mark-up. Competing on price becomes impossible and retailers have to find other ways to set themselves apart. Free shipping becomes the next logical step.
Technology has changed business as we once knew it… And it’s not stopping either. The changes are quickly advancing. In order to thrive and succeed in today’s fast paced environment, your business not only needs to able to adapt, it needs to remain one step ahead.
Are you thinking of starting a retail business? Do you already have a brick and mortar store and have been thinking of making a switch to ecommerce? Operating an online-only store has many advantages, and if you can learn the fundamentals of online marketing for retail, it can be a very fulfilling and liberating endeavour. Let’s consider some of the advantages of trading purely online:
There is never enough time in the day to do everything, which is why it is important to make the most of the time you do have. The biggest hurdle to efficient time use is a lack of planning and structure. Follow these tips and you will find yourself being more productive and less stressed.
Entrepreneurs will often say you’ve got to fail fast and learn faster if you want to succeed. It’s these learnings which not only make you a better business owner but also increase your chances of establishing a successful business.
In honor of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, we want to celebrate women who are out there working hard on their businesses. We know starting and running your own business presents new challenges everyday. From getting funding, to keeping on top of your cash flow, to trying to be more productive. Every day it’s something new.
We asked 500 small business owners about how the run their business and the things they think about every day. We found that the women in our survey are constantly hustling for their business. Not only that, they tend to only turn to their accountant during tax times. We know that having a great advisor can be the key to maintaining a healthy business.
Take a look at some of the other findings from our survey:
As a small business owner, you should take any edge you can get when it comes to being successful. You never know what piece of advice is going to be the key to breaking your business wide open.
That’s why we launched our Make or Break? report,which looks into what makes businesses more likely to succeed or fail, in honor of Global Entrepreneurship Week. We want to give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about your business.
Here’s a quick flow chart to help you decide how to take the next steps in your business.
Branding is the emotional response your business evokes in its audience. It is more than a logo or a series of advertisements, it encompasses all the accumulated interactions your business has with customers. A brand is the core identity of your business and can be a powerful tool in ensuring your customers return, as well as recommend you to their friends and family. Successful branding is about capturing the hearts and minds of customers and turning them from people who use your product to advocates who go out of their way to choose you over a competitor. This loyalty is the foundation of many successful companies, from Apple to McDonalds, Coca Cola and many more.
Developing product and brand names that become iconic is an art, with a whole range of factors that need to come together at the right time. These include things that are in your control, such as the words themselves, and other societal elements that no one can predict. To give your new name the best chance of success, consider the following when creating a moniker for your business or latest product.
A gift guide is one of the most powerful tools you can have during the holidays. It allows you to showcase your products, inspire shoppers, and stay top of mind throughout the season.
But it’s important to note that creating a winning gift guide takes more than just rounding up your products and putting them in a catalogue. Releasing gift guides is a tradition in the retail world, so you have to be creative with how you craft and market them.
The results are in. If you’re not proactively listening to business online reviews, you might be missing out on key insights into how to grow an online business.
This consumer review survey by BrightLocal highlights how customer reviews play a vital role in helping businesses build trust with their audience.
Instagram is one of the big four social networks, alongside Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It took what people loved most about Facebook, sharing photos, and turned it into a global phenomenon. An average of 55 million photos are uploaded to the platform every day, which means a lot of users and a big opportunity for brands that can harness Instagram’s power.
Social media isn’t just about viral videos or selfies. For consumers, sites and apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are playing an increasingly large role in their path to purchase.
This is why it’s so important for retailers to invest in social media marketing. Having a strong presence in relevant social networks not only gives you an avenue to communicate with your audience, it also allows you to stay in the radars of your customers. This in turn, increases the likelihood of a shopper choosing your brand when they’re ready to buy.
Chances are, at some point in time you’ve probably messed up a spreadsheet. And when we take into account that nearly 9 out 10 spreadsheets contain errors, that’s to be expected! But when millions of pounds are at stake it becomes a bit more important to get your spreadsheet right…
Why not too much, not too little, but just the right amount of inventory is crucial to your business.
One of the biggest and most important challenges many businesses will face is how to successfully manage and control their inventory. It is usually one of their biggest ongoing costs, and often one of the biggest overall investments.
A key area of business directly affects the overall health of a business is how accurate its inventory levels are. For businesses who fail to maintain a finger on the pulse of inventory as it flows through their operation the consequences can be dire – perhaps even fatal.
If your company is project-based, you probably have a framework or system in place for how you manage each project within your team. But even the most robust project management system will occasionally encounter a snafu.
Technology is flipping the way small businesses deal with the world. Everything from automation to new ways of financing your operations, are all transforming the sector.
Here’s what small business owners can learn from the big tech news events this month.
For business owners, upgrading or changing software systems is usually an opportunity to upgrade or change the business itself. A chance to try something different, make things easier or more efficient, or give a fresh interface for employees. However, if not implemented carefully, such changes can turn into costly, time-consuming nightmares, due to the various difficulties involved. For this reason, change management is a critical step when implementing any new software in a business.
“Counting your chickens before they hatch” is an idiom that’s thrown around a lot in day to day conversation. Little do people realise its relevance to business strategy. In a nutshell, it means to ‘plan how you’re going to utilize the good results of something, before those results have actually occurred.’
Just like most organizations, the success of a retail business relies on the unity and alignment of three critical elements: people, process, and technology. This is especially true when you’re running several retail locations. With multiple moving parts, stores, and teams, it’s essential that you keep every component in sync to ensure that your business runs smoothly.
At Xero, we use the power of technology to foster innovation, connection and entrepreneurialism. To create beautiful work that makes a difference. This is why, each month, we speak to business leaders within our like-minded community. We want to see how they apply similar values to shape their businesses, and their future.
This month, we speak to Stephen Borg. He’s an experienced executive recruiter who, together with his two business partners, started Miller Leith. The firm aims to turn the recruitment industry on its head. They’re creating a more personal, community-minded and supportive experience for businesses and candidates alike.
Stephen tells us in his words why genuine connections make all the difference, how you can innovate work to be a force for good, and how a value-driven service can transform business challenges.
I don’t know about you, but I really love it when a customer takes the time to give feedback about the service my team has provided them, whether it’s good or bad.
Positive feedback may be the most pleasant to receive, but it’s actually the negative feedback that brings the most important benefits. Negative feedback provides valuable insight into where the team is falling short, and pinpoints the specific areas that need to be improved.
One of the benefits of having a modern inventory management system is that it aids business decision-making. Central to this is the comprehensive real-time data that can be analyzed with this software. Managers, factory staff, and retail staff alike will benefit from relevant information that concerns their particular role in the business. This article will discuss how inventory management software can help decision-makers in different areas of a business.
We’ve all heard the phrase, a picture is worth a thousand words. We believe, when advising your clients on their businesses, graphs and charts have the same impact on numbers. Graphs and charts condense large amounts of information into easy to understandable formats that can clearly and effectively communicated. With approximately 65% of people being mainly visual learners, meaning they easily pick up information with their eyes and prefer to be taught something by seeing it in a graphical manner. This is especially relevant when there is a lot of data and complex material to understand. Delivering information that’s pertinent to their business and in a visual way gives your client the greatest chance of understanding, implementing and valuing your advice.
Inventory is considered to be one of the most important assets of a business. Its management needs to be proactive, accurate and efficient. Whilst holding either too much or too little inventory places a burden on both productivity and profitability, it is still essential for most businesses to hold a sufficient quantity of inventory at all times.
What do you think when you think of HR?
Administrative? Transactional? Boring?
Yep, the traditional human resources department hasn’t got the best rep. And for good reason – it’s where the business dots the i’s and crosses the t’s, where policies and processes are fine-tuned. It’s not exactly thrilling stuff.
You’ve got all this amazing talent, ideas are firing, business is thriving, you wake up every day feeling really lucky to be doing what you do. But one day it all starts to go downhill. People are leaving, HR is in overdrive and unfamiliar faces are springing up left right and center as freelancers start filling in the gaps...
Entrepreneurs come in different shapes and sizes. Which type are you?
There’s an old saying attributed to Mark Twain: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” That’s certainly true of business. Time and again I’ve read that the most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who left school in their early teens and set up their own businesses.
Culture is recognised as the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a society. When it comes to business, it’s importance can carry even more weight. When we think about a business’ culture, we think of the values, behaviours and attributes of your people.
Being the busiest shopping season of the year, retail sales during the holiday months can account for as much as 20-40% of a retailer’s annual sales. That’s a lot of revenue–and it takes a lot of additional work to achieve. That’s why the holiday season always brings about a spike in temp hiring.
If you’re one of the many merchants looking to hire seasonal employees in the next few months, it’s high time that you start looking, vetting and training people. Remember, you’re competing with a lot of other retailers for talent these days, so the sooner you get started, the better.
Inaccurate estimations can cause drawbacks in the process of important projects. An electrical contractor who ends up buying more materials than is truly needed, for example, might waste a lot of money. And, inversely, an electrical contractor who purchases less than the job requires might miss lower prices offered by wholesale arrangements, and waste time procuring all the necessary items for the completion of the project.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying many times. But what does it actually mean? How does it really help? Does it help at all?
According to the Wiktionary, to put oneself in someone’s shoes means ‘to try to look at a situation from a different point of view, as if one were the other person. To empathise’.
I had the opportunity recently to meet with Nicole Crump the owner of Tactix Marketing. We were both speaking at a seminar for a client in the sales technology field. I discovered that Nicole spends a good amount of time showing SME’s how to put together an effective marketing plan. So I invited her to share some ideas on how to do this.
I used to think that LinkedIn was just a networking tool to keep in touch with business contacts, associates, colleagues etc. But all of this changed recently, when I came across an entrepreneur called Alex Pirouz.
Payroll in Xero is flying in the UK. Since its launch earlier this year, our customers in the UK have processed nearly £200 million of employee pay using it. Our Payroll team has been focused on extending and refining the core experience of using Payroll in Xero, guided by feedback from the thousands of businesses, accountants and bookkeepers that are now using it every month.
Automatic enrolment of employees into a workplace pension will affect every employer over the next couple of years.
Every employer has a legal duty to enrol all eligible employees into a pension scheme. They also need to assess their employees according to certain criteria to find out who is ‘Eligible’.
A business that aims to scale successfully for growth needs to be able to meet the versatile demands of handling their inventory effectively. As a business expands the level of complexity and challenges for its most critical operations increase, too. Relying on outdated and ineffective systems to manage burgeoning inventory demands will not only stunt growth but could also potentially drive the business towards failure.
As a tech-enthusiast I’ve tried just about every web app, mobile app and cloud-service available. I’ve downloaded phone apps, and deleted them, signed up to this, downloaded that, and joined the next social platform, however, I’m pretty scrupulous. I’ll dig in and see what it’s going to do for me and if it isn’t going to change my life for the better overnight, I’ll delete and repeat.
Before we consider the ways to optimise your website for local search, let's see what local search really is, and why it is important for your business: If you ever used the Google now feature on an Android phone, have you noticed how Google is able to return the results for places to eat around you, or popular shopping destinations in the vicinity? Similarly, have you ever wondered how Siri on the iPhone is able to tell you how many good Italian restaurants are in your neighbourhood? Another example is a set of listings you see on Google desktop search.
A process is a set of defined tasks required to complete a given business activity, including who is responsible for completing each step, when and how they do so, and how long it takes to complete.
If you think of the number of repeated tasks required throughout your day, refined processes can amount to huge benefits. Processes clearly define how things are done, then provide the focus for making them better. How they are done determines how successful the outcomes will be.
More than seventy percent of change projects or initiatives within an organisation fail – why? Typically organisations are not taking a consistent or holistic approach to change management, nor are they engaging their workforces effectively to do so. Whether it’s new initiatives, adopting technological improvements, shifting work methodologies from being compliance heavy to advisory based , or simply just wanting to stay ahead of the competition – these factors all drive ongoing changes to the way we work.
“The best things in life are free
But you can keep them for the birds and bees
Now give me money.”
The Beatles weren’t singing about employee motivation when they recorded Money (That’s What All I Want) in 1963. But it’s fair to say that money has always been seen as a key to workplace harmony.
Time Management is one of those skills many of us struggle with. As business owners, managers and leaders, you wear many hats. Now, hats are awesome. I love hats. I just returned from Peru with a hat that bears a striking resemblance to the one Indiana Jones wears … but that doesn’t mean I want to be juggling all my hats at the same time.