How to Maintain Small-Business Productivity During the Holidays

How to Maintain Small-Business Productivity During the Holidays

The holiday season is almost upon us and very soon celebration invites and thoughts of who’s hosting Christmas dinner become top of mind.  The demands of the festive season become greater as the countdown begins.  As your mind drifts into thoughts of a white Christmas, reality bites – there’s still work to be done. Here are some tips to maintain your small-business productivity and prepare for the new year ahead. When all around you is chaos– keep your cool and stay focused. If you don’t already have a daily planning ritual, it could be a good time to start. During the busy holiday time, more than ever you need a daily and weekly plan to maintain your focus in order to complete what needs to get done. Start by scheduling your priority tasks into your calendar. Schedule shorter batches of time to allow for the smaller less important tasks to get done. Take advantage when your clients slow down during the holidays. Not every industry gets busy around the holiday season, in fact many shutdown altogether.  If your clients slow down or shutdown make sure you use this additional time in your week to work on important projects and other work that may have been neglected. If things are really quiet, why not dedicate a day to clearing out your office space, de-cluttering your desktop and organising your computer files. You’ll start back to work after the holidays feeling motivated and ready for action. Planning is critical to success, put aside some time to reflect on achievements, set goals and plan for the following year. Get prepared early on....
Why Businesses Struggle to Grow

Why Businesses Struggle to Grow

The current economic climate is not particularly favourable for start-up businesses, and despite assurances from all quarters that the recession is “over”, many small businesses are struggling to survive, let alone grow their turnover and profits. Recession aside, what are some common reasons businesses fail to reach their potential? Not being realistic about growth, or growing too fast First a note of caution: while growth is desirable, growing too fast might overextend your business financially. Borrowing too much in an attempt to grow rapidly may well cause an otherwise successful business to fail when there is no reserve capital, and financing cannot be extended in case of seasonal slowdowns or an unforeseen crisis. Rather, start-up companies should aim for realistic expansion and steady increases in turnover and profits. In the current climate, lean companies have a definite advantage. The old adage “less is more” holds true here. The start-up founder lacks general business know-how Even in good financial times, many companies are not able to make the jump and expand from being a small owner-run enterprise to being a mature and profitable business that can operate quite independently of its owner-manager. Instead of the financial environment, the competition or the government being responsible, it is frequently the very founder who is to blame. In his best-selling book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About it, Michael E Gerber explains how many entrepreneurs start a business in their field of expertise, but don’t know about matters such as finance, marketing, management and operations. These business owners continue to work in the business, and...
What Systems can do for your Business

What Systems can do for your Business

This article was originally published in Process Street. As a small business grows, and the number of employees increases, it is no longer possible for the person at the helm, the business owner, to attend to all problems as they arise.  If you do not have systems in place, you will find that you are dealing with issues in an ad hoc, time-consuming and often chaotic manner.  It will mean that your employees are constantly bringing problems to you and that your business cannot run without you.  This is stressful for you as manager and frustrating for your staff!  Systemisation of your business will help you create a scalable, sustainable business that operates equally effectively whether you are present or not.   Systems are everywhere Speaking generally, a system can be described as anything that follows rules, defined as repeating patterns, and can include both natural and mechanical systems.  Creative, dynamic people are often loathe to embrace the concept of systemisation, because they think it is going to limit or confine them.  Actually, what systemization does is allows the mind to be free knowing that you are in control of your business.  It helps to think in terms of the ecosystems found in nature, which can be simple or complex, while allowing a natural community or environment to flourish.  In terms of business practice, a system is “a recorded process of any task which has to be completed repeatedly”.  Thinking about your business, you will discover that there are already several systems in place: Systems for dealing with creditors and debtors, for example, or systems to reward staff performance.  ...
What is Business Systemisation

What is Business Systemisation

Business systemisation gained notoriety from the bestselling book by Michael E. Gerber, published in 1986, The E-Myth – Why most businesses don’t work and what to do about it.  In 2011 this groundbreaking book was named the number 1 business book of all time by The Wall Street Journal.  In The E-Myth (Entrepreneurial Myth) Gerber explains how businesses are usually started by those who know the content of a business – so-called “Technicians”, people who know how to do the technical work involved in an enterprise – rather than by those who know business itself – so-called “Entrepreneurs” – and why start-ups are therefore by definition prone to failing. In order for a company or business to thrive, it must move beyond relying on the so-called “Technician” who is now also the company owner.  Gerber uses the franchise model to demonstrate how a business does this: Franchises are prototype businesses that are operated in terms of well-documented systems, i.e., there are manuals describing in minute detail how to run the business.  Gerber argues that the entrepreneur should spend time creating a business that can run by itself, without the presence of the entrepreneur, and this is achieved through business systemisation.   Important business systems Gerber outlines the three systems that are important for businesses, by making the business processes ever more predictable and consistent: Hard systems are the physical tools that make a company more efficient; soft systems are the methods and practices employed by staff to get the job done; and information systems are those IT processes that gather data about the business and its operations in order...