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I’m feeling bogged down by the little stuff in my business. How do I become more streamlined?

Entrepreneur

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It’s a common problem for entrepreneurs, particularly the solopreneurs. The problems usually stem from having to wear all the hats of running a business to the detriment of either a) spending too much time on operations and not strategizing, or b) spending too much time strategizing and not enough time spend generating business. So, there are three main things you can do to streamline:

  • Set financial goals. Even if you’re not a numbers genius, it’s important to have a good understanding of what’s coming in, what’s going out and how you intend to increase your profit margin to prevent blind panic. Next, establish how much money your business needs to generate (remember, be realistic). Then devise a 12 month plan to see that goal realised.
  • Sales strategy. Having clear financial goals helps you drive sales strategy. Understand your sales offering, target market, competitors, strengths and growth areas so you can make an informed decision on what needs to change and how.
  • Create an operations manual. Franchises are statistically more successful than independent businesses because everything is systematised and there is a thick operations manual to refer to for every possible scenario. Make sure that you and each person on your team has their own ops manual. From here you can increase accountability by having staff aware of their responsibilities and performance, and should one of them leave, they don’t take all that knowledge with them in their heads.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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Personal Improvement

Have You Fallen Off The New Year’s Resolution Wagon Already?

Stop lounging around the house ‘waiting for things to happen’… make it happen this year.

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Making new year’s resolutions is the easiest part of getting back to reality. Setting pen to paper, while you lounge around in your PJs with a glass of sweet red, is a mental hiatus we all indulge in come 1st January. But is it procrastination in disguise?

Now that we’re fully in the swing of 2017 it’s back to business. Time to map out realistic goals.

How’s your current mind-set going to lead to a more productive, enriching work-life balance?

You’ve heard of “working smart” but have you heard about setting SMART goals? Don’t tense up in your recliner just yet, this isn’t your conscience talking. Yes, we all need clearly defined objectives in our love-lives and fitness routines.

Related: Your Top 10 Growth Moves For 2017

We’re not suggesting that you toss those more “feel-good” ambitions out the window. Your holistic wellbeing is paramount to success in the work place. We’re simply suggesting that you take a little time to work smaller deliverables into your daily routine.

A great example is to exercise that writing muscle. Effective written communication is a crucial skill to master in the workplace. But how do you improve on something you’ve been doing since grade school? Well, there’s writing emails and then there’s dedicated writing time.

According to Neil Patel, you should be setting aside at least 30 minutes every day to journal your thoughts. This is a fantastic way to develop a more disciplined, precise writing style.

Real talk: Finding more tangible ways improve your routine will help make 2017 your year to shine. The more quotidian aspects of personal growth can be pretty challenging too. Just don’t give up too soon. You know what the best way to eat an elephant is after all.

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Personal Improvement

How do I encourage my employees to adopt lifelong learning?

Lifelong learning requires a change in mindset and goes hand in hand with accountability.

Deidre Elphick-Moore

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I am a firm believer in lifelong learning, but how do I get my employees to embrace this value?

It is important that you are clear about what lifelong learning means to you. You may have a different idea to those outlined by the South African government, which focuses on a framework of school-like learning activities that lead to qualifications that one can work towards throughout one’s life.

I’d like to suggest that lifelong learning is more than that. It is a mindset and a habit for people to acquire. What I am talking about can be referred to as ‘self-directed learning’.

“In its broadest meaning, ’self-directed learning’ describes a process by which individuals take the initiative, with or without the assistance of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identify human and material resources for learning, choosing and implement appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes”, (Knowles, 1975).

You’ll see from the date of this quote that this is not a new idea, yet it is relevant more than ever in our workforce.

Accountability is the first step

As we move away from a political motivated, post-apartheid sense of entitlement, both government and private enterprise alike are stressing the importance of accountability in the value systems of their staff.

Self-directed learning is another by-product of this much talked about value. So, before you begin to try to instil an understanding of and love for learning, you need to instil the idea that your staff members are accountable for their own futures, for their successes and failures and those of the business they work in.

Setting goals

Once your employees believe that they are accountable for their own life stories, they should begin to think about their goals and what they need to do to achieve those goals.  You can help them in a number of ways:

  1. Take the initiative: lead by example, talk to your employees about your own approach to self-directed learning, share experiences and case studies that show how easy it can be to apply
  2. Diagnosing their learning needs: if you don’t already have a performance management system, you need to implement one. It will provide a baseline that shows your staff what is expected of them and where there may be gaps in their knowledge or skills
  3. Formulating learning goals: people who engage in self-directed learning have a clear vision of what they want to achieve in life. It is important that you show your staff the benefits of personal growth, perhaps through incentive programmes or career development opportunities
  4. Choosing and implementing learning strategies: people have different learning styles and preferences. Some may learn best through experience, others may prefer to listen to lessons.Encourage your staff to look for daily opportunities to grow e.g. they can seek out advice from more experienced colleagues or they may observe star performers at work. Remind them that they can also learn about what not to do if they observe poor behaviour. There are many lessons to be learnt beyond the classroom.
  5. Evaluating learning outcomes: As part of your regular interactions with staff, ask them to outline something new that they have learnt every day, week or month. Encourage them to reflect on when, where and how they learnt. Through this evaluation, you will begin to see trends in their self-directed learning and they will be motivated by what they now see as an environment rich with learning opportunities

“Change is inevitable, complete coverage is impossible and obsolescence is unavoidable” (Author unknown). It is for these reasons that we need to continue to learn, to grow every day so that we can keep up with the world around us.

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Personal Improvement

Is it even possible to take a break from my business?

Proper planning means you can afford to step away from your business now and then.

Sipho Pilime

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As a small business owner, I never seem to manage to have a proper holiday. How can I make sure that I have time to spend with my family over next year’s holiday season?

Most entrepreneurs fall into the trap for working 24/7 and never taking time out from their business.

The trick is to plan ahead so that you are freed up to take a much-needed break.

Things you need to set in place include appointing and training a manager who can run the business in your absence and properly documenting all systems and processes.

Read the full article here.

 

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