Top Management Tips

Year: 2017

Marketing Ideas for Mortgage Brokers

Mortgage broker marketing isn’t typically something you would consider innovative or exciting but there are some essential tips for mortgage brokers that could make a difference for your practice. Traditionally, it is founded on conventional marketing procedures and frequently it isn’t too interactive. Digital platforms enable mortgage brokers to make automated messages catered for individual customers and encourage feedback. Let us look at some ideas which are all about engaging customers and fostering loyalty, while also lowering your workload.

  1. Utilize social media to your benefit. If you are not busy on social media, you are passing up the chance to get in touch with prospective customers. Social media is an excellent way to prove your knowledge for a mortgage agent, communicate with other companies locally, develop brand awareness, answer customer questions and much more. Use automated sociable media management to take advantage of your time.
  2. You need to differentiate your mortgage broking services from the rest: Referrals are a great way to call positive attention to your company and attract new customers. After every customer you help, request a referral. It is easy to do this via online surveys. An all-purpose mortgage broker advertising solution will allow you to easily make and distribute surveys. You won’t receive a referral from each customer, however you’ll find a few, together with a great deal of helpful feedback that will assist you improve your services.
  3. Keep a record of your online leads so you can connect with them personally: Even if someone visits your sitebut does not leave contact information, you can still collect a lot of information from them. Lead tracking follows where visitors come from, what they click on, time spent on the site and more. This builds a comprehensive individual profile for each lead, if the lead departs leaving their email or contact number, you can reach out. Consistently collecting online data enables you to understand which portions of your site get the maximum attention so it is possible to optimize the website. Private profiles also let you get in touch with leads according to their unique interests and internet activity.
  4. Splendid website: your website should be smooth well designed and informative. There are so many great mortgage broker websites out there, so yours needs to be better. Features such as a live chat with customers can are a handy tool that can transform your website. A live chat tool is valuable as it gives a means to get in touch with internet visitors immediately rather than them calling and waiting on the telephone. While they’re surfing your website, the live chat is always available on their own screen. You’re there toanswer any queries or point them in the ideal direction.
  5. Produce personalized mortgage agent campaigns for every one of your customers: With advertising automation, emails may automatically go out to every customer according to their particular requirements and preferences. This can help you build loyalty and involvement with customers, but you do not need to spend some additional time generating efforts. Simply select how you would like your messages to be routed and they’ll head out to your customers at the right moment.

What Can a Bitcoin Buy you Right Now

Despite its monumental price increase, Bitcoin has been undergoing some curious growing pains lately. Since it continues to gain popularity, the community is apparently falling into a civil war with a single issue at the middle of everything — scaling. Lambos we can purchase, but if you would like to get a coffee for yourself on the way to you job, comparatively slow transaction times and high prices make it a less-than-desirable coin to use. For the time being, at least, it appears high cost purchases alongside being a censorship resistant store of value are a few of Bitcoin’s most significant discoveries.

 

Bitcoin has clearly piqued the attention of the extremely wealthy who are the holders of a large crypto wallet. Multi-million-dollar mansions are popping up all over with Bitcoin price tags. And if you’re looking for luxury cars, yachts, fine art, or a $300,000 wrist watch, it is possible to find those too. Where the transfer of large amounts of money globally would normally cost an arm and a leg and require a few days to process, Bitcoin bypasses the banks, leading to lower prices and a 30-minute waiting period.

 

The infiltration of Bitcoin to the luxury marketplace began in 2013. The now defunct Bitpremier made waves in finance sites as it launched the first ever Bitcoin shop for high priced purchases. Following this, many big-ticket items started hitting the news.

 

Lamborghinis

 

The same year, Lamborghini Newport Beach started accepting Bitcoin… sort of. The initial purchase to hit the media was a Tesla Model S that was originally touted as a Bitcoin Buy, even though it later was revealed that the firm lacked the infrastructure to support a Bitcoin payment, and required the client to convert the coin to money before making the purchase. Since that time, however, there are quite a few legitimate Lambo purchases with crypto.

 

Headlines such as “A 4chan User bought a $200,000 Lamborghini Using Bitcoin” might have stirred some giggles back then, but it is now a critical business with numerous retailers seeking to jump on the bandwagon.

 

Fine Art

 

Eleesa Dadiani, owner of the esteemed Dadiani Fine Art in London started accepting Bitcoin and six other top cryptocurrencies for bits in her gallery earlier this season. Dadiani considers in cryptocurrencies, not just for her organization, but all companies. They’re combining old world business ethics and practice with the new world of technology — the present system is getting stale and should be disrupted. Cryptocurrencies will offer a bridge from the elitist, centralist fine art marketplace to a decentralized, open source world where many more will have the ability to be a part of the exhilarating marketplace.

 

Real Estate

 

In addition to fine art and luxury cars, property has made its way to Bitcoin brochures.

 

Back in September, it was announced that Michele Mone, a British lingerie entrepreneur, and her billionaire partner, Doug Barrowman would be starting a $327 million commercial real estate project in Dubai, with an option to buy the big-ticket condos in Bitcoin. The couple see the buyers of those flats being people that are looking to redeploy funds from the crypto world into traditional world, and there is nowhere safer than bricks-and-mortar to do that.

 

Barrowman and Mone are not the only property tycoons looking to capitalize on cryptocurrency, either. Ben Shaoul, president of Magnum Real Estate Group, is now in the process of creating a building in Manhattan’s Lower East side where condos will be priced between $700,000 and $1.5-million. Though Manhattan’s high-priced housing market remains flooded, Shaoul wants to get an edge on the competition by accepting Bitcoin.

 

“Our buyer has evolved, they’ve moved from mom and pops to young people who want to pay with various forms of payment,” said Shaoul. When someone wants to pay for commercial property sales using another type of payment, you are going to attempt and work together and give them exactly what they want, particularly in a really busy housing market.

 

Private schools

 

These high-profile accounts have spurred a veritable frenzy in the luxury marketplace.

 

In Manhattan, there are even two private Montessori schools which have chosen to take Bitcoin payments. Citing slow and expensive transactions, Marco Ciocca the co-founder and chairman of the schools noted that they don’t accept credit cards, but Bitcoin has been “really really easy” to use. Rather than some of the other companies which might keep the crypto currency, Flatiron and SoHo immediately cash out the Bitcoin obligations for fiat.

 

The future of Bitcoin for a currency

 

While the scaling discussion reaches a boiling point, it’s obvious to see why ‘routine’ Bitcoin enthusiasts are searching for solution to the crypto currency’s largest drawback for a currency. It has become a store-of-value for a few, and a more affordable alternative to banks and credit cards for high cost purchases for others. With contested hard forks driving a wedge in the community, and second coating solutions in development it’s tough to say exactly when we will eventually be able to buy this coffee. But one thing is clear; adoption is well on its way, and an individual can bet that after solutions are ready for execution on the scaling Issue, Bitcoin will catch on even quicker.

Utilising Digital and Print Advertising

As the world changes to become more and more electronic, print is often reported to be dead. But, what you might not know is that company printing is a $640 billion business and based on Print Is Big; it is growing at a rate of 6.8% yearly worldwide.

 

Print is still a highly effective channel of communication for businesses who wish to communicate with their prospects and clients, particularly when coupled with digital. According to Adam Dost, VP of Strategy and Marketing in Printek, an integrated strategy will radically expand your capabilities to convey messages to audiences. Integrating print and technology enhances targeting, enhances personalization, and increases conversions. Together, digital and print advertising permit you to reach your customers personally and with a relevant message across each channel. The options are endless.

1. Use a postcard campaign as a ta

 

Bear in mind that postcards or other print media arrive in hard copy and clients will need to manually enter the URL to get your information, so ensure that your URL is simple. Don’t make it overly complicated with strings of random words and numbers. A good example could be: www.CompanyName.com/CustomerName

2. Use your business card to induce social participation

 

Regardless of the rise of social networking, business cards remain a normal practice and represent a vital way that individuals exchange information when they meet face to face. They serve as an important leave-behind, so use them as an opportunity to promote social interaction. Be certain you include contact information in your business card design like your Twitter and LinkedIn profile URL (that you may personalize) to drive folks to find out more about you and your company from your electronic presence.

3. Give away hard copies of articles

 

As content promotion has grown, the chance to present hard copy collateral at events reinforces your brand and offers a convenient way for some people to consume the material. We have seen sellers give people the choice at events–take home a hard copy or sign up there for soft copy shipping. The key is that you would like to make it as easy as possible for people to consume your content and participate with you and your brand, whether that is via a soft copy to read on their notebook or a hard copy to read on the airplane.

4. Send out applicable security

 

There are still times when we would like to touch and sense information about a product, whether it’s information about the colours available when purchasing a new car or a glossy brochure about a school that is being contemplated by pupil. If you have collateral that’s powerful but you need to make certain to direct it to the correct people at the ideal time, Chuck Moorehead, VP of Marketing in Trojan Press, advises to leverage your knowledge of the electronic behaviour to make that happen.

 

This digital behaviour could consist of data you have gathered about the ads they click on, websites they visit, time of day that they participate with you, or kinds of offer they have reacted to–all of that can help you shape your message, and allow it to be more personal, engaging and appropriate. Harry & David turned this electronic knowledge into action by matching their published vacation catalogues with their clients’ gift lists, which was automatically compiled depending on the gifts their clients previously sent and the men and women who received them. With this information at their customers’ fingertips, they supplied their customers with a seamless experience for the holidays.

Business Content Writing and Sales Copywriting

Content writing and sales copywriting are among the most popular services that businesses outsource. It’s the cornerstone of this content advertising process that has been proven highly effective in generating inbound traffic for business. If your articles frequently provide relevant, usable and technical answers, more people will respect you as a professional and will favourably patronize your providers over others. A company has two options for generating digital content. The first choice is to set up and fund an in-house content writing team. The second solution is to outsource content writing to a third party supplier. The best option is to outsource content writing to a third party service provider and there are 3 reasons for this:

Lower Cost Alternative

Outsourcing streamlines cost by capitalizing on relative cost advantages. When you outsource gift, you simply pay for total productive hours worked, you do not pay benefits and they’re accountable to their own costs of the company. When you put up an in-house content writing team, you pay a fixed salary and benefits to all team members. You also incur extra costs per item on your monthly budget. This includes rental distance, Internet bandwidth usage, supplies and power.

On Time Delivery

Third party service providers are very professional because they understand the value of getting content published on time. Since content production is their core competence and main enterprise, third party service providers can better focus on the quality and timeliness of its deliverables. Given these advantages, how should you outsource content writing for your enterprise?

Outsource SEO

Search Engine Optimization helps your articles get found online. Including web copy, blogs and posts, which are posted on your site, social media and relevant community blog websites. The search engine optimization professional will research the best keywords for your content author to use. In case you have an existing web developer, SEO will have the keywords incorporated in descriptors; meta and title tags to boost the visibility of your site.

Search Engine Optimization is a growing profession because it is an ability that it is in good demand. You can discover good candidates in freelancer websites, online job markets or connect with professionals in social networking networks like LinkedIn. Outsource your content writer. Content writing is among the most popular online tasks. You may locate candidates for articles writing on online job sites, community billboards, social networking networks and freelancer websites. However, not all of them are great.

So as to find the best content author for your company, you have to outline your qualifications:

  • High degree of proficiency in spoken and written English
  • Appreciable degree of knowledge in SEO principles
  • Ability to write in different styles such as;
    • Informative Story-Telling
    • Undertakes comprehensive study
    • Patient, meticulous and detail oriented
    • Disciplined with deadlines
    • Ability to write short form and long form content

It’s well within reason to check the writing ability of the candidate. It’s wise to cover this test to relieve concerns you might be a scammer. If a candidate fears you’re scamming to have a free article, you might not elicit their very best performance. It’s not enough that you can find content Writers and SEO professionals that match your qualifications. You should choose the selection process one step further by conducting due diligence steps such as:

  • Contact preceding customers
  • Run a simple Google check
  • Assess their social networking accounts

Content writing is not just about finding good writers and asking them to create blogs, and posts. The practice is much a science as it is an art. Theoretically, content promotion is more of a procedure than a digital strategy. Demand patterns have become unpredictable because preferences can be affected by social networking, and other online channels. That being said, when you outsource content writing for business, you need to know that the content should not remain stagnant. It should remain dynamic just as markets and your audience continue to evolve.

 

Business Advice: Networking, Mentoring, and Support

Small businesses should get the most out of experience available — knowledge is power and so is receiving business owner advice. Build your knowledge at which you can and do not enter something with your eyes shut. Brief yourself, get briefed by other people and in the event that you still have knowledge gaps, work with those who can fulfill them. If you can, reach out and be proactive to find your perfect mentor: I have quite a few mentors, I have always had mentors throughout my professional career. They tell me how it is, as they are frank and honest. They will help me but will not take the decisions for me. I believe that the mentor-mentee connection is a very personal one and one that must be worked at. If it’s a good one, it’s mutually beneficial and can open doors for you and your company.

You need to reach out and be proactive. Very good business mentors are busy running their companies. You need to attend important events — and might need to attend more than one to meet the ideal mentor, to network or to gain support for your business. If you discover someone you get on with and respect, never hesitate to ask them questions about who they are, and how you both may be able to help each other out within the networking field. To do this right, you have to know what networking really is: media is a connection. You can’t consider it in any conventional sense, you cannot box networking; you cannot explain it away using jargon. Networking with, and mentoring as small business advisors in its broadest sense is extremely easy, effective, and is about helping and supporting people.

A few quick top tips:

  • Help others, you never know who you will meet and who they know.
  • Attempt to work out which sort of networker is sitting before you.
  • Do not go into media events with the ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality, rather, connect and network with others with a positive mindset.
  • Developing a networked community takes time and dedication, do not think it will happen overnight, you have to work for it!
  • Be truthful with your answers, if you can not help somebody, say so.
  • Think dynamically about who you may be meeting, if you can not help them, perhaps someone in your network may.
  • Be engaged, do not be dismissive, do not forget the person you are talking to is passionate in their area too, and may just be looking to expand their own network.

When times are tough expert advice is invaluable. Some of the most advanced and fast growing companies have started up during recessions, since it is when markets change, existing suppliers fall out and the following recovery could give a boost to growth. However, economic conditions can be volatile and opponents can be very defensive about their rankings, so advice is vital. Financial management is critical since the creditworthiness of consumers can be unpredictable and when you sell on credit, you will need to make certain that you will get paid. A good accountant can make a major

difference and as a lender, we like to see that companies have sound financial systems and guidance.

Think hard about who will be the best match for your group. The best piece of advice I ever had was to be certain that you work with a group that matches your abilities and attributes. Do not recruit in your own picture. That way you compensate for any weaknesses, learn from their strategies and provide yourself the ability to play to your strengths. The same applies to a community or mentoring relationship.

Why Corporate Catering is Best

Significant clients need the utmost attention. For one-on-one meetings, treating them to a deluxe lunch functions is just fine, but what about larger groups? If you have got a significant board assembly or sales pitch coming up, you may want to think about getting prepared meals brought right to your offices.

With corporate catering, you can get high quality meals for your customers without the fuss of visiting a restaurant. The catering company may come in to create your whole meal before the customers arrive. Caterers who deal with corporate accounts nearly always provide a choice of décor which brings a high-class element to your meal. The table where your buffet is set up can have the best linens and dishware, ensuring that your customers are impressed.

In regards to the food, corporate catering is a superb way to offer meal options that everybody will love and talk about. With your buffet-style lunch or all day breakfast inspired spread, you can have a multitude of choices in which appeal to even the most discerning customers. Plus, these corporate caterers can even set up cold and hot stations for your meals. That means eggs, bacon, waffles, and pancakes for breakfast, or hot sandwiches and soups for lunch. Doesn’t this all sound extremely delicious? But wait, there’s more! Other popular items include fresh fruit, mixed salads and dessert trays piled with cookies and brownies – ticking the box of every single client attending your event.

When you have tried corporate catering, you will never return to ordering boring boxed lunches again. Clients are much more impressed with an elaborate food spread complete with all of the foods they may want. Additionally, it provides an element of class to your meeting, as there is a wide range of delicate foods to appeal to every client. But when you weigh up your options to cater, or not to cater, just think of all these wonderful benefits that come from catering a large corporate event. As opposed to eating with plastic tableware from Styrofoam boxes (what corporate company would want this option), however, when you use catering, your clients and customers will use real silverware and dishware to enjoy a tasty meal, making the function one to remember.

Business catering also works nicely for in-house meetings or events. In case you’ve got a significant training for your executive staff coming up, why not treat them to some wonderful lunch to divide the day up? It’s also perfect for staff appreciation events, holiday parties and special event parties to observe a team member’s retirement or anniversary with the business; many corporate caterers also offer quality beverages like wine from yarra valley wineries. These periodic investments in treating your employees to a particular meal will definitely pay off as they realise that their employers value their hard work, treating them with an amazing, hassle free feast.

Business catering also can function for evening occasions if you have them, or are considering to host an event. A number of businesses have an annual celebration, whether it’s for the holidays, a fundraiser or a meeting of shareholders. Whatever the case, these formal day parties got the attention of a corporate caterer who’s experienced in working in a corporate setting. These caterers know that look, food quality, and amazing service are all extremely important in regards to those events, so they have the ability to supply the best catering services for your occasion. One I recently attended was amazing, being inspired by vineyards in the yarra valley; they had used ingredients sourced from the area and paired them with relevant wines.

If you are considering having a company event catered shortly, contact local catering businesses to inquire about their company catering experience. You’ll realise that those with specific expertise in a business setting are the best suited to the job. A catering event is the perfect addition to any corporate setting, as the hassle free feast will be surely one to remember!

Enhancing Employer-Employee Relationships With Technology

The employer-employee connection is critical not only to preserve talent, but also expand your own company. That is the reason a lot of businesses are investing in constructing this relationship. And it all begins with confidence. Since the 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report in the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found, 55 percent of the almost 600 workers surveyed reported trust between management and employees is extremely important to their job satisfaction.

When workers respect and trust their employer, they’re happier, participating more and work harder. When they don’t – which is much too common – they could be seeking to jump ship. So where does this leave management?

It is time to invest in technology solutions that can help companies improve their connection with their staff. Technology helps ease trust throughout the business by linking employees at all levels. It produces a culture of open communication and transparency which provides workers a voice and enables leadership the chance to train and enable their employees in a quick and convenient manner.

Here is how you want to use technology to boost your employer-employee connection:

Track Goals With Performance Analytics

People analytics is flourishing right now since it permits you to correctly monitor and measure your worker’s performance and determine real-time outcomes. And performance information may be utilized in many various ways. As an instance, it is possible to readily share progress reports to anybody at any moment.

Let us say earnings in a laminated-specialised timber constructions business are underperforming through a huge new product launching: Management can share these real time reports together with their sales agents and look at exactly what architectural timber products will need to be promoted more. This may influence far better product placement and rep behaviour in real time rather than awaiting reports the following day.

Use these reports to collaborate with workers to establish goals. Present them with performance information to show them where best practices could be implemented to enhance their earnings and help them better handle daily pursuits. When workers see their supervisors invest in helping them enhance their performance, they’re more inclined to trust and respect them.

Communicate Better Via Video

Employees need more input from their supervisors. Actually, Zenger Folkman’s 2014 Feedback: The Powerful Paradox research of 2,700 companies and workers discovered that 72 percent of workers believed their performance will improve if supervisors provided clinical feedback.

Communication tools such as video programs allow employers to construct a more confident staff. Rather than quitting a sales rep figuring on how to correctly handle tasks such as cleaning a revenue floor area or building promotional screens, they’re permitted with comprehensive directions from a higher level supervisor.

Video technology joins people visually, which makes it easier for the coach to show how to execute specific activities and to allow the trainee to observe just how things are done. Linking higher-ups with low-level employees through video is particularly useful when there are difficulties from the shop. Managers may see results without needing to visit a number of places.

When armed with these tools, supervisors are more inclined to offer the ongoing, constructive comments workers deserve. This will enhance performance because workers are going to feel more confident in making decisions, which helps them fulfill expectations. Subsequently, workers will start to be understood more for their successes and feel more motivated and engaged while the direction they trust and esteem acknowledges their hard work.

Supply Training On Demand On Your Cloud

Cloud computing service providers have given businesses the ability to equip their employees with on-demand training substances, such as job descriptions, procedure documents and interactive on-line coaching tasks. Employees are now able to learn at their own speed and remain educated on upgraded corporate policies and some other shifting initiatives. This is particularly beneficial in ensuring compliance throughout the organization.

But how do they remain in the loop whenever they do not know how to get the training materials? Make it effortless for them. Show them the fundamentals of obtaining the internal net portal and the IT managed services or support services so that they can come across these employee development alternatives.

Apart from saving paper, electronic checklists are better because they can be updated and modified in real time. This means that you can quickly prioritize job lists to your workers. They love this since it helps them see the big picture and determine what’s absolutely crucial, and what could be done later in the day.

Companies will need to change focus on creating confidence and esteem to keep top talent and also to guarantee large-scale expansion. When workers feel as though they are put up for victory, they anticipate their company and will go to great lengths to attain their objectives.

Are you leveraging technologies to enhance the employer-employee relationship?

Swearing At Work…Oh No!


Swearing At Work…Oh No!We all do it from time to time no matter how moral or upright we think we are. Let’s face it. It feels damn good when we do it. There is just something about dropping the “F bomb” that releases a lot of tension and pent up emotions. In fact, i just did it as I’m sitting at the keyboard writing this: just spilled coffee all over the desk because my cat jumped up and scared the s*&@# out of me. Damn that felt good…I swear!

Anyway….what I was getting at was that swearing does release a lot of frustration and anger usually within one word. Amazing how that works. Research has been done at New Zealand’s Victoria University that basically said that ‘letting it rip’ wont change or improve the situation but it is a useful emotional release.

So, the question is, do you as a manager let your employee or employees swear around the office? My answer to that would be ABSOLUTELY! However, a word of caution. It has to be in context. What I mean by that is that a person shouldn’t go around the workplace just uttering curse words for the sake of it. It might offend an employee or a customer. It is also bad manners to do that. I never saw anything wrong with my team while they were in the office and talking amongst themselves to swear every now and then. I’m certainly not condoning the idea of every second word a person utters to be a swear word. That just shows a lack of vocabulary if nothing else. And an employee should NEVER EVER swear in front or at a customer. In my early days at managing I told one customer that he was a f%^& idiot and to get out of my store! That did not go down well at all with upper management and I nearly got the boot.

Believe it or not but the same study also concluded that staff members who have a bitch and a moan to each other improves morale around the workplace too. The F word is the most commonly used swear word but in the context of a close knit team, it could not be considered offensive. To me, that makes perfect sense. If it doesn’t to you, please let me know what you think about this.

There are enough pressures at the work place these days and by letting your staff swear around each other to release the tensions of a bad day, let them do it. It costs nothing and the less you have to do to maintain their motivation and morale the better.

A Co-Worker Gets Fired


how to cope with getting firedA co-worker gets fired.this can happen to anyone at any time. As a manager though, a lot of the times it is not in your control who gets fired or not. Sometimes it could be a co-manager or a manager of another department who gets the bad news. The last thing you should do is to say or do nothing at all.

Be quick to react if you don’t want to appear to be insensitive. Sometimes, all that’s needed is a simple, I don’t know what to say or a simple I’m sorry.

Avoid turning the situation into a big office gossip fest.

Avoid bagging the company and saying things like this company is screwed now.

Avoid sounding like a person who has been there or done that as that can sound very insincere.

Above all, don’t downplay the situation and make out as if it’s no big deal because sometimes losing your job is a big deal. Try and be balanced in what you say to them. At times all that’s needed is a listening ear after the initial shock.

Being Patient With New Staff


Being Patient With New StaffBeing patient with new staff is easy to say but hard to do. Managers often have to recruit new staff members and train them in whatever your company does. There are procedures and there are systems in place that a new staff member has to learn. And how quickly a new staff member learns often depends on how well you train them. Being patient with new staff members is important for their development and possibly their future within the company. How can that work?

It’s all very simple. It’s like that old saying that goes that a student is only as good as his teacher. Generally speaking, if a new staff member fails, then it usually comes back on you as a manager. It will be seen that you either recruited the wrong person for the job or that you didn’t train them properly. In saying that though, sometimes a new staff member appears to be failing because the expectations that you have set for them are far too high too early. A friend of mine started a new sales job only a week ago. He is experienced in sales and knows what he is doing however, he has taken on a new industry that he is not familiar with. His manager has already had a go at him for being behind schedule for the role out that he had planned. To top that off, he has only been given a few hours training by his manager on how to sell that product, on how to overcome objections on that particular product and so on. His manager has been in the industry for over 20 years so he knows all the ins and outs of it. So only after a few days, his manager expected him to be able to close as many sales as someone with 20 years experience in the industry. Is that fair? Is that being patient with your new staff? Hardly.

Let’s be realistic. When someone comes into your company from a totally different background, give them time to learn everything there is to know. If you need results in a hurry, then don’t hire someone outside of your industry no matter how great they were in theirs. It takes time to get into a new mindset. Train them well, take the time to make them feel comfortable and above all else, be patient. If after a month or two you see no real improvement in their performance, then it may be time to reevaluate their position in the company. If you jump the gun after only a very short period of time and terminate their employment too early, you may lose a very valuable asset to yourself as well as your company. Being patient with new staff is also a sign of how good you are as a manager.

Coaching Your Staff

train your staffSocrates once said that “I cannot teach you anything, I can only make you stop and think”. One way to make someone ’stop and think’ is for a manager to coach someone. That’s part of the management role and it’s a continuous task. One company I worked for years ago had a very strict business coaching program that everyone from managers to sales assistants had to go through every week.

I have worked at some places where there was no coaching done by any of the managers and the staff were left to their own devices. The results were chaotic. There were sales people doing their own thing; long lunch breaks, making up whatever they wanted to tell the customers just to get a sale, sitting around talking all day long and so on. They treated their workplace like a social club and there was little old me…doing everything and no time to even scratch my bum. After a long time of no direction by the company to coach and train their staff and not to mention my bum was getting rather itchy, I had had enough. I devised a training program over a period of a few days and took that plan to upper management. I explained to them that the staff were lazy and had absolutely no direction whatsoever. When they finally got the point, they gave me the go ahead to implement the plan. The immediate result was one of indifference by most of the staff. Most argued why the change? Things were fine the way they were. After awhile of listening to their points of view, I gave them the choice, either accept that there is going to be some sort of a training program implemented regularly, or they were welcome to find a new job. Some left but most stayed.

The benefits of a good coaching system is that it can free up your time for other things as your staff are more motivated, able to think for themselves and generally they become more creative too. I noticed that when we started a coaching regime with everyone, they became more productive and very creative in coming up with ways to make more sales.

Peter Drucker ( a famous management writer) said that ‘management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things“. One of the things you can do right as a manager is to implement if you don’t already have one, a good coaching program and if you do have one, keep it going on a regular basis with all your staff. This doesn’t just apply to sales staff but can also include all that you have under you. Everyone has dreams and aspirations on where they want to be and a good coaching program can do truck loads to help them get there.

Cheers

Andrew Bailey

Internet Business Start Up Rules 101


Internet Business Start Up Rules 101Your services or products must fix one severe pain point that individuals deal with. Find the one idea that sticks, test, improve and regularly feed information back into your feedback loop to build a much better service or product. To learn how to do this, many take business courses online to learn about all of the ins and outs of running an internet business or a traditional bricks and mortar business.

Even with all of the information a business course would provide, here are just five leading tips for online company success:

1. Find Your Businesses Niche

If you want your company to survive, you have to discover precisely where you’ll sit in the market. Don’t go into the marketplace with a huge scheme. Simply find something that is lacking in the market place. You will receive huge support when people realize they don’t have access to the digital content you are providing. In this way, you can cut your own groove.

2. Sculpt Your Offer (without the screaming sales pitch).

All too often, a business goes over the top with the sales pitches. It seeps through their content and the audience usually sees instantly someone is throwing sales copywriting at them. Instead, provide truly useful material in the language of your audience. Engage with your audience to discover their needs, then respond to those requirements. You should put a lot of effort into quality as well as quantity and not on one or the other.

3. Know Your Site Well as it is Your Greatest Asset

Analyzing your custom web design content is arguably the most important factor in your company’s survival. When I started out in my business, the traffic numbers were right up there but the conversion rate was pitiful. When we reviewed our site, we discovered the content was great however the call to action had not been clear. We concentrated our efforts on design and made sure they all helped the reader to understand exactly what to do.

4. Understand Your Sites Analytics

Use analytics to monitor your traffic. The difference between your traffic and conversion rates can be huge. To minimize this, make sure people don’t get lost on your site. The ‘flow’ should be easy for the user to navigate through and get where they want to go fast, do this by thinking about your web screen design. This gets back to understanding your site’s content. Your analytics data is the vital sign of how much interest you’re getting (and keeping).

5. Continuously Update Your Site

A lot of businesses have utilized e-mail marketing to enhance their ongoing contact with their audience. While this can produce some good results, continuously improving the quality of your homepage and other landing pages is just as important. Individuals have to understand that if they engage with your product or service, they are getting the best and most up to date information.

Be First Best or Different

First Best or Different“First, Best, or Different is one of those exceptional books that changes the way you think about marketing and entrepreneurs. I highly recommend this book.” Manny Fernandez, Chairman Emeritus, Gartner Inc. Innovative Marketing and Sales Strategies for Niche Markets Are you an entrepreneur, small business owner, or corporate marketing executive with questions like these? What viral marketing methods are most successful?. What direct mail marketing tactics create the most new leads? How can I optimize my website and increase traffic? How can I motivate and retain my top sales reps? How do I choose the right Public Relations firm? What is podcasting and how do I get started? What outdoor advertising techniques work best? Get answers to these questions along with practical advice on over 100 topics.

Written in plain English with short easy-to-read chapters, this book demystifies niche marketing by delivering easy-to-understand definitions and practical suggestions. About the Author John Bradley Jackson brings street-savvy sales and marketing experience from Silicon Valley and Wall Street. His resume also includes entrepreneur, angel investor, corporate trainer, philanthropist, and consultant.

Buy Now from AMAZON

The Top Five Reasons To Hire a Funny Motivational Speaker

hire a motivational speakerA while back, I came across a really motivating article about what can motivate people more. I have sat through a number of business courses for managers and business owners and found that the ones that motivated me the most were the ones that were a little different and sometimes even humorous.

“When the time comes to  host a business conference, meeting, or assembly and you’d like to kick it off with a keynote speaker, you’ve got a big task ahead of you. There are all kinds of motivational speakers out there, from Christian keynote speakers to motivational magicians. However, anyone who’s seen one can tell you that [clean, of course] comedians make for the best motivational speakers. Aside from the fact that laughing with a group of your coworkers has been proven to improve performance and goal achievement, there are a lot of reasons why you should consider hiring one.

Laughter is Contagious

The main reason that comedic speakers are so effective is because they bring the whole room together and give them something to bond over. It’s a time for employees to let their business-casual guard down and have a little fun. When everyone in the room is laughing at the same thing, it’s a true bonding experience that can greatly benefit the company. Not only that, but it will give the employees something to talk about over coffee or at the water cooler, which helps to build relationships within the office even when certain employees aren’t very outgoing or willing to strike up a conversation.

Humor is Easily Absorbed

Let’s face it – your employees are going to be a lot more inclined to listen to something if it’s making them laugh. If they’re laughing, they’re not bored, and if they’re not bored, they’re engaged. It’s all too easy for even the top motivational speakers to lose the attention of the audience due to boredom. If everyone in the crowd is yawning, you can pretty much assume that they’re not absorbing anything that’s being said. Better go the safe route!

Laughter Reduces Stress

Everyone knows that during the peak times of the year, everyone’s job can get a little stressful. This might create hostility between coworkers, anxiety about going to work, or just general stress about meeting goals. Since laughter causes the brain to release serotonin, it’s a definite aid for stress relief.

Whether or not your employees are stressed out should be a major concern of yours. Stress-related illnesses, including insomnia and even heart conditions, are a very real issue, and work is one of the biggest sources of stress in people’s lives. If you can take them out of a stressful environment to give them a boost of serotonin and a dose of fun, you’ll be the one to reap the benefits. Not only that, but it’s been proven that laughter increases mental alertness, which is great for stimulating the workplace environment and getting a message across.

Fun Equals Productivity

Whenever your employees are having fun at a work-related event, you can assume that they’re participating, since it is enjoyable. Participation and productivity go hand-in-hand. There have been studies that show a direct link between a corporate culture that incorporates good humor and employee satisfaction. Who do you think is going to be a better worker – an employee that likes his or her job, or one who is totally dissatisfied?

When it comes down to it, everyone in the workplace can benefit from a little fun, so what are you waiting for”?

Original Article can be found here

Work Place Negativity

Workplace negativity is a little different from employee negativity? How so? One is more destructive than the other. If you have an employee that’s negative all the time, sure, he or she can affect others in time if left unaddressed. But if you have a workplace that’s negative, then generally it means that everyone is affected already. As a manager, you have to handle this situation quickly and precisely.

 

First off, you need to identify what the problem is. The best way to do this is to talk to your staff individually at first and then collectively once you know what the problem is. Often times it’s a very minor thing that has festered into something huge because it wasn’t addressed or resolved at the time that it happened.

Unfortunately, a lot of the time the causes for such negativity are out of your hands. Sometimes staff aren’t happy with the direction the company is going, or have heard rumours about layoffs or new pay structures. At times like that, it’s often fear of the unknown that causes the negativity in the workplace. When I was faced with this scenario, I sent out memos to everyone involved and then called a staff meeting to address the pending pay reviews and company restructuring. A lot of unfounded rumours are spread by people who love to gossip and sensationalise things so they become the centre of attention. You need to stop people like that in their tracks as soon as you hear about it and deal with that person. You need to make it clear to all your staff that you will not under any circumstances tolerate anyone spreading rumours or unfounded ‘facts’! I don’t know about you but I found it very exhausting dealing with a negative workplace day after day. If a person after being told to stop their gossip-mongering, take whatever disciplinary action you are allowed to weed such people out. I couldn’t be bothered with them and neither should you. They are paid to work not create a negative working environment.

There are many causes for workplace negativity, but there is a lot you can do to minimise it. You need to stay alert, talk to your staff and deal with a potentially negative issue straight away before it affects everyone.


Cheers

Andrew Bailey

9 Tips for Rebranding Your Business

9 Tips for Rebranding Your Business

What happens when things change and your brand no longer reflects the message you want it to even after starting your business with a winning strategy? Whether your target audience has changed, or your business has suffered damage to its reputation. Whatever it might be, the answer may be that your business could be in need of rebranding. But what some business owners don’t recognise is that a true rebrand is so much more than just a new name, logo or site; it’s a complicated and lengthy process which requires worker productivity to increase in order to produce a successful rebrand.

Are you ready to change the image of your business? Well here are 9 tips to help you with rebranding the correct way.

1. Make sure your focus is always on the big picture

  • It’s quite easy to get lost in the mythology of the story behind your business assets but try to not spend a lot of time thinking about it. Branding experts can be quite good at telling stories but just remember, majority of people aren’t going to pay that much attention to the meaning of a tiny element of your brand logo.

2. Be very specific

  • Always keep in mind that branding is just as much about who you are not, as it is about who you are. A large number of businesses fail to use the discipline which is required to close in on what makes them so unique and special. They all try to include all of their customers and end up getting wound up with a brand that is indistinguishable from their competitors. Robert Sprague, the President and CEO of PCI, once said “A brand that means everything is a brand that means nothing” and that has a lot of truth to it.

3. Make sure you hire an industry expert

  • When going through rebranding or just freshly starting up a business, get help from a professional and find a strategic copywriter to rewrite your copy to suit your new brand, either you or your team members can sometimes be too close to the brand to be objective. Whether you hire someone for a few hours or a few months, it’s completely up to you, but getting the unbiased opinion of an expert early on in your branding or rebranding phase is extremely valuable moving forward.

4. Think about who your target audience is

  • Make sure you take time to think about who your target audience is and who your ideal consumer is because then you have a better understanding about your product. For example, if you are a sports physiotherapist in Geelong, you will be looking at targeting people ideally in the Geelong region. You have to ask yourself if you’re looking to attract new customers or make your current customers excited again. It’s tricky when rebranding because you want to make sure that you are gaining attention for your new look and feel but also not losing the key customer that holds your bottom intact.

5. Have a good strategy in place for your announcement

  • There is always so much weight on the rebranding that it is quite easy to forget about the strategy for announcing it to the world. It is crucial to remember that people don’t pay much attention to the names or logos when developing a strategy; they care about how the rebrand is going to change their experience with your company positively. At the same time, you have to make sure you are not leaving behind certain things about your company that people love the most. You must thoroughly explain with a digital strategy why this is better and explain to your consumers that they are still getting the parts they already love plus some new and exciting benefits.

6. Make sure it’s legal

  • When branding or rebranding, make sure you have full rights to the name you have chosen before you go ahead and make branding decisions such as your website, logo, signage etc., because you don’t want to go through all of that time and effort to then find out that someone else already has the legal rights for that name. One of the most essential steps a business can take when branding/rebranding is consulting with a trademark attorney to have a search report done on your chosen name.

7. Carefully consider forms of social media

  • When rebranding, it is smart to work with an experienced branding company who has experience in naming. You must make sure that your chosen company name is an available trademark, the domain is available, and it is very clear, particularly with the advent of social media so also make sure that your priority social media addresses are available.

8. Don’t have anything outdated

  • When rebranding, you have to make sure that you rebrand absolutely everything and not leave any traces of your old logo behind because that looks very unprofessional. When your consumers see your new logo in one place and then your old logo in other places, it looks extremely unorganised and reflects negatively on your business. If just starting out and doing branding for the first time then doing an online business coaching program would be quite ideal to assist you with the process and making sure you aren’t leaving anything out of your branding process.

9. Don’t have it as a surprise for your customers

  • When rebranding, you need to let your audience and customers aware that something big is coming. Keep posting about it on social media and send out newsletters regularly keeping them updated and informed on what is happening with your rebranding so they aren’t caught off guard. Just start with saying that you are rebranding and have a special launch coming very soon. Giving customers a sneak peek of certain things from your rebranding, such as your new logo, can act as a teaser and can really gain the attention of your customers and audience and leaves them wanting to know more.

How You Can Keep the Wheels of Business Turning – Part 2

One of the best ways to keep the wheels of business turning is to team up with others to get the task done!

Keep the Wheels of Business Turning Part 2

Selling is frequently represented as a singular role– salespeople out on the road running their own areas, the lone wolf, and so on. Leading sales executives are not the lone wolf type in a crane holding themselves up, it’s a team effort. They know the value and power of partnerships both within their own organisation and out with their customers and business networks.

They:

  • Invest time building collective, customer-focused relationships inside their company
  • Keep up to speed on developments that affect customers’ place of business, arising trends and clients’ rivals
    Try to find ways to add to their clients’ earnings
    Make use of the full resources of their organization
    Excel at aligning customer/supplier strategic goals
  • Use the resources within their company in ways that are appropriate to increase the possible earnings of their individual clients
  • Introduce consumers to other suppliers and potentially important support resourcesTop sales executives see their relationship with their organisation as a collaboration: one where they collaborate in concert to capitalise on the presently available opportunities provided.

The most effective sales techniques are established through going beyond a one-two day training program on sales theory and skills. If you want to become a top performing salesperson, not only should you mirror the best salespeople in your industry, you should also adopt a holistic strategy. This is one where you combine official (organisational) and casual (your own input) elements into your daily sales practices.The best way to explore and become competent in a behaviour, skill or mindset is to apply it regularly in both your private and work life. By closely monitoring the fundamental aspects of your sales process, you will definitely begin to internalise, take responsibility for and implement what you learn. Over time, practiced sales techniques and skills will become part of your daily routine and eventually a part of you

Create your very own Creative Learning Environment

There is a lot of work to do to keep the sales wheels turning, and sometimes it feels like a slab crane – feeling like it is a slow and drawn out process, but is worth it in the long run.. That is why leading sales executives develop a schedule, which integrates a wide range of activities to keep them on track to the rhythm of their constant advancement.By organising how you’re going continually learn and pinpointing what you want to reflect upon, you can develop a personalised creative learning environment that provides insights which will keep you fresh and on your toes.Create a calendar that includes weekly, monthly and quarterly events that will help you to build an environment that fosters creative learning. If you are fortunate however to be working for a company that is progressive and takes the education of their sales executives seriously, enroll in some business courses or undertake a business diploma that will better your opportunity to be promoted within your organisation who have most likely aided you to be a success over years past.

How You Can Keep The Wheels of Business Turning

Keep The Wheels of Business Turning Part 1Gaining momentum in your executive career in sales needs a proactive and disciplined technique, similar to that of a bubble crane operator’s attention.

There are lots of things to think about and get right in order to achieve a successful selling week and sales year. However, you should understand that the onus is on you, the sales representative, to take advantage of what you have.

Nevertheless, many salesmen, unfortunately, adopt the mindset that it is their business’s obligation to train and educate them, to provide everything they need before they can genuinely work as a successful salesperson.

In direct opposition, the most valuable salespeople recognise the need to update their knowledge base, buy new materials/publications and continuously grow. This allows them to utilise what they have and dominate prospects regardless of what resources are available to them

A 5 year study of more than 1000 B2B salespersons from 40 industries looked at exactly what separates leading performing sales people from typical ones and revealed, among other aspects, that the most effective salespeople adopted a proactive continual development approach; they considered themselves personally responsible for assisting both their employer and clientele in reaching goals and achieving success. Additionally, they repeatedly looked at new methods so that they might achieve mastery in their sales careers. Reaching goals like these are not as easy as a crane lifting you straight up the ranks, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. All of this in spite of their management and resources, and without being prodded to do so.

Specifically, what do the best performing sales people teach us? To ensure the sales wheel keeps in rotation, what should we focus on?How do we develop our own continuous learning environment us to be successful?

Is Your Emergency Response Plan Up-To-Date?

Is Your Emergency Response Plan Up To DateThe crucial actions taken in the initial few minutes of an emergency are extremely important. A prompt caution to staff members to lock-down, shelter or leave can save lives. A call for help to public emergency services that offer full and precise info will help the dispatcher to send the ideal responders and materials. An employee trained to administer first aid or perform CPR can be lifesaving. Action by workers with an understanding of structure and procedure systems and knowledge of the facilities nearest emergency exit doors lit up by emergency lighting, can help manage a leak and lessen damage to the facility and the environment.

The primary step when establishing an emergency response plan is to perform a risk assessment to recognise possible emergency circumstances. An understanding of what can take place will allow you to identify resource requirements and to establish plans and procedures to prepare your company. The emergency plan must follow your performance objectives.

At the very least, every facility should establish and carry out an emergency plan for protecting employees, visitors, specialists and any individual else in the facility. This part of the emergency plan strategy is called “protective actions for life safety” and consists of structure evacuation that include protecting and providing sufficient lighting control during the event (also known as ‘’fire drills”), safeguarding from severe weather such as tornadoes, “shelter-in-place” from airborne dangers such as a chemical release and lockdown. Lockdown is a protective action when faced with an act of violence of any nature.

When an emergency situation happens, the first concern is always life safety. The following priority is the stabilization of the incident. There are numerous actions that can be taken to support an event and decrease potential damage. Emergency treatment and CPR by qualified employees can save lives. Use of fire extinguishers by skilled employees can snuff out a small fire. Containment of a small chemical spill and guidance of structure utilities and systems can decrease damage to a building and assistance avoid ecological damage.

Some serious weather condition occasions can be anticipated hours prior to they arrive, providing valuable time to protect a facility. A strategy should be developed and resources need to be on hand, or quickly, readily available to prepare the building. The strategy ought to likewise include a procedure for damage control, salvage, protection of undamaged property and clean-up following an incident. These actions to lessen additional damage and business interruption are examples of property preservation.

Guidance for the development of an emergency response strategy can be discovered in this action. Construct your emergency reaction strategy utilizing this worksheet.

Same Basic Business Rules Also Apply to Software Testing

Business Rules Do Apply to Software TestingOne of the fastest growing businesses in Australia today is software testing or known by other names such as developer testing and user testing. I am in touch with a few businesses that are in the business of creating software of all descriptions and apps for mobile devices. I have seen too many of their products flop after launch because of not enough testing. I am certainly not familiar with all of the jargon of the industry but the same fundamental business principals apply to this industry as it does to any other.

The user experience is one of the most vital aspects to the success of any technology platform. If you ignore the criticism without first exploring it or shut it down and have a counter argument or justification for every point a user makes, then your product will certainly fail!

Handling objections is for sales and the common mistake in this field is that it’s used for UX (User Experience) discussions. Unfortunately, from what I have heard recently from people in the software business it happens way too often.

I totally understand that as well. Whenever somebody says anything that does not compliment what you have worked long and hard on is kind of like saying to a new parent they have an ugly baby. There is not one person alive that likes to hear it.

You have to hear if you have an ‘ugly’ design or clunky navigation, or even a confusing overall experience. This is vital if you are to be successful with your new software or app launch. It can make or break your business, so if this stuff offends you, you need to get thicker skin and fast.

With usability testing in Australia, the obvious consideration is price point for soon to launch software or apps. There are many businesses in most countries that offer UX feedback services. You have to pick one that has a price point that you can afford and is reasonable for what you are getting, have a good UI (User Interface) that would be conducive to a start-up type business or even a long established one.

There are online spaces such as, Elance and ODesk that have enhanced the exposure given to usability testers on its platform, and this great f you are trying to test a new piece of software or a mobile app if you are on a tight budget.

The Value Of Damaged Art – From The Insurer’s Perspective

The Value Of Damaged Art - From The Insurer's PerspectiveInsurers of fine art hear lots of reasons and excuses in their kind of work. Practically as many as third-grade instructors.

A pipe broke and sprayed water all over it. The shipping crates weren’t strong enough and broke. The movers dropped it. At some point, a pet is most likely to have eaten at least one collector’s painting.

But when it comes to securing and protecting the value of one’s art, the way a piece was damaged does not matter. What does matter a thousand – perhaps a million – times more is how the owner can go about bringing back the piece’s value – or recovering it if the piece is considered a total loss.

Safeguarding art’s monetary value isn’t really as easy as it may appear. There is a “book” value to your car, which assists insurance companies to decide if the cost of repairs will be higher than the total value of the vehicle. The worth of broken art, ornamental arts and antiques is more elastic and might result in disputes between owners and insurers.

“It’s always a fragile topic of discussion,” explains president of the New York art brokerage company DeWitt Stern, Steven Pincus.

What follows is a look at exactly what every art owner ought to find out about damage and restoration in the world of personal art collecting, and how owners can secure their pieces – and wallets.

 

Examining the damage

When everything goes as planned, the insurance adjuster will inspect even the damaged artwork, then a conservator provided by the insurers will see if it can be fixed and at what cost. Assuming the expense isn’t substantially more than the piece’s value, the artwork is quickly given to the conservator to start treatment.

“You don’t want a long hold-up since that might make issues much worse or even extend the period,” Dorit Straus explains, retired global fine art manager at Chubb, a leading art insurance company.

After repairs are made, an appraiser with expert knowledge in fine art or a dealer in the kind of art will evaluate the object to figure out if the value of the now-repaired work’s value has declined and by just how much.

This is where many troubles can start.

“There is no mathematical formula,” states Chicago-based insurance adjuster, Robert O’Connell. “The artwork could have a small tear in a canvas, but it matters more if the tear is at the center of the piece or right on the corner or edge”.

A policy for fine-arts normally will cover the whole cost of remediation and, if there is, say, a 30 % loss of value because of the damage, the insurance company will pay the insurance policy holder 30 % of the insured value.

When there are arguments about values sent by an appraiser for the insurance company and another by the insurance policy holder, many fine-art-insurance policies have arbitration clauses that generate a third appraiser to examine both appraisals.

With greatly damaged older artworks, the insurance industry’s fine-art appraiser or specialist may decide not to say that an object has actually been ruined, “unless it is no longer identifiable’’, states Chubb’s Ms. Straus. “Even severely tarnished works might retain cultural significance, although determining what that works out to in actual dollars isn’t really that simple”. With such rapid advancement in technology over the past century, we have been able to offer state-of-the-art art storage solutions even for the oldest of works, in attempt to prolong the life of world famous art pieces.

Choosing if a work can be repaired and if it keeps any value can be even more complicated when the artist is still living. Some artists might offer to fix their own works or want to choose and monitor a conservator, while others might hold the view that their creations would never ever be the same, asking that their names not be connected with the artworks.

Keeping Motivated in the Film and Animation Industry

keeping motivatedNot so long ago, a friend of mine asked how he can motivate himself to keep his new career fresh and interesting. He went to great lengths to finally get his diploma in film and animation. Even though the CG field is very competitive, the idea of motivation is the same no matter what industry you want to get into.

I spoke to someone I know working in the film and game animation industry and she told me that if she waited around for inspiration to come to her, she would still be waiting. She would never have left her desk at home and enrolled in a highly regarded animation school in her hometown. She graduated about 10 years ago so she has some words of wisdom to impart to people who are following in her footsteps.

The first piece of advice she gave me was that no matter what, getting enough sleep is paramount to keeping herself motivated. It goes without saying that sleep replenishes your body but exactly how much you need; only you will know that. Keep in mind that a lot of our time these days is spent on things like social media so if your excuse is that you don’t have enough time; cut your social media activity at night.

To help you stay motivated, physical activity is another important factor. It can be walking, running, the gym, swimming or any other activity that gets you away from your normal routine. Personally I find an exercise like swimming best for me as it keeps my brain occupied. If I walk, I have a chance to think about all the stuff I haven’t done so my brain can’t unwind. Whatever works for you is the key.

The CG industry is a highly competitive one so staying updated on what’s the latest in the industry is crucial. It changes fast and every day as there are always new artists pushing the boundaries of what software can do. She suggests find CG related groups in your area or on social platforms like Facebook. You can learn a lot about 3D modeling, the latest in digital art, 3D visualization, demo reels, new works, VXF breakdowns and more related stuff. Ask as many questions as you need to in such forums as many leading experts in the field frequent these groups.

One piece of advice that I can pass on here is at the end of every day, make a list of 3 things that you are grateful for. This could be anything that made you smile, happy, laugh or just feel good. This really has nothing to do with cg animation, but it goes a long way to help you with motivation and positive thinking. If you are thinking positively, your motivation level automatically goes up.

In a highly competitive industry like the CG animation game, staying on top of your game is very important. The best way to stay on top is to be highly motivated. By following the advice of someone who has come before you and is successful, you should never have a long period where your motivation level is low.

 

Starting Your Own Business 101

business planA friend asked me the other day ‘I want to start my own beauty salon. Should I take a beauty therapy course or should I just dive right in and hope for the best”? Well, the answer is very simple. NO! Never ever just dive into a business and hope for the best and YES, take a course in some discipline if you don’t know what you are doing. These courses usually have a section on how to run and set up your new business. No matter what type of business you want to start, the basics of business should always be adhered to.

First, figure out just how much cash you require. Beginning a company can cost a great deal of cash, and the majority of business owners do not make a profit for the very first year or 2. Here’s exactly what you need to think about:

Can you still support yourself while your company gets up and running?

Calculate just how much money you will need for regular monthly costs, just how much of a cushion you have in cost savings, and just how much you definitely have to make monthly to survive.

Create an operating expense. Work out just how much money you’ll need to run your business monthly. Factor in your lease, licensing, training, payroll, products and an emergency situation fund.

Work out how much you’ll charge for services. Once you have operating expenses, you’ll understand just how much money you need to break even monthly. To make a profit, however, you’ll have to do a bit more than break even. Rough guess the number of services (such as haircuts, colors, manicures, and so on) you have to do in a week and find out just how much you would have to charge in order for you to make a profit, however, small it might be to begin with.

Find out if you need any type of licenses to operate your business.

Depending what country you are in, you may need certain types of licenses to operate a beauty therapy salon. It may surprise you when you do a bit of research into licensing that even for applying makeup to clients, you may need a permit of some sort. It’s always best to check your local states or countries laws on such matters.

Put together a comprehensive business plan.

Basic business 101 is the idea of a written business plan. We are not talking about a War and Peace type novel here for a business plan. It has to have however things like a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), what your business structure is, your 12 month goals, 5 year goals, cash flow projections, projected profit and loss for the first 12 months and 5 years and many more factors. For a full list and a template, click here. DO NOT skip this part as it does take a lot of thought and planning. I’m not saying that with or without it you will fail or succeed. What I am saying is that it gives you a good plan to look at regularly so that your path is structured and you know where you are headed and where you should be up to in your business growth.

Choose the right location for your business.

It never ceases to amaze me how many small businesses I see that are in the wrong location. The building I am in now, there are quite a few small eating places around. However, one of the best ones is a few doors down but it’s in a laneway where there is hardly any foot traffic at all. Choose a busy foot traffic area such as a shopping strip or if you can afford it, a shopping center is always a good bet. Make sure you are also near a very busy shop such as a supermarket or a greengrocer. While a little competition is good, don’t sign up for a lease where there are already a few well-established sports physiotherapy service or beauty therapy salons in the area.

Getting into any type of business needs good planning, a steady cash flow and above all else, determination to succeed. I read a quote somewhere the other day and it went something like this, 97% of the population is employed by the 3% that didn’t give up. I’m not sure who said that but it is very true. If you are not determined to succeed, no matter even if you think you are failing for a while, don’t bother getting into your own business because you will fail. Remember the old saying that Rome wasn’t built in a day and no business ever is. Be determined, focused and pay no attention to the people around you that might want to bring you down or who want to see you fail. One day you might be in that top 3% of people who employ the other 97% of the population.

Below is a simple business plan video that I found that will give you the ideas on what to include.

Office Cubicle Etiquette

office cubiclesUnless you are lucky enough to get your own office, chances are you will have your own workstation or cubicle to do your work in. Having proper office cubicle etiquette is important if this is how your office is set out. There are a few things you probably should keep in mind when working in such close quarters with everyone else.

One thing that used to drive me nuts was when someone from the next cubicle popped their head over the cubicle wall and said something dumb like “Whatcha doin?” Sometimes I’d just jump as I wasn’t expecting anyone to do that. If it annoyed me, I’m sure it annoys others too. Respect other people privacy as much as possible given the circumstances.

If someone is having a conversation in the next cubicle, don’t stick your head around to jump in and add your two cents worth unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’s hard enough working in such close quarters without having someone do that all the time.

While I have nothing against people eating whatever they please, I draw the line where the smell is just so overpowering it makes you want to pewk. Cubicle etiquette dictates that you have your lunch in the office kitchen rather than at your cubicle. And if you do eat your lunch at your desk, it might be a good idea to put your lunch wastes in the office kitchen bin rather than your desk bin. The smell of onions and the like can be a bit off when left for hours after in the bin.

Have you ever sat at your desk and just couldn’t help but listen to the phone conversation in the next cubicle because the person was talking so loud? I remember all too well what that was like and it can make the office morale go down as well as create a lot of stress and tension. If you have to talk on the phone, try and keep the volume down. As well as that, noises your computer makes can be annoying too so turn down the volume of email alert sounds, screen saver sounds and any other beeps or buzzes your computer sound effects can make. At one stage a person near me had a sound effect when he received an email. The sound was a woman’s voice yelling out ‘not happy Jan’! He sent this sound effect to a lot of people and can you imaging what it was like hearing a woman’s voice yelling not happy Jan a thousand times a day? Enough to make you jump out of the window. Thankfully it was banned eventually in the office.

As a manager, you might want to consider sending out an email memo to everyone this sort of thing can affect. You will be surprised how many people will appreciate it and will tell you all these noises, loud conversations and smelly foods were driving them crazy. Having proper office cubicle etiquette can contribute a lot to your departments productivity and the morale of your staff.

Have Regular Brainstorming Sessions

regular brainstorming sessionsBrainstorming sessions are one of the best ways to create new innovations in your company or division. Entrepreneurs who have taken many diploma of  business courses have regular brainstorming sessions among their start-up partners. It has  been used by a countless number of people over the years because it allows a broad listing of issues or problems that might require analysis and it can help to identify specific causes for specific problems. After all, the role of a manager is to create new innovations within the company to streamline things and to obviously try and save the company money. By using a brainstorming session among your staff, it helps to reduce the workload on you.

Who should be present at a session? Depending on the problem or issue being discussed, anyone who is directly involved. You wouldn’t have a team of sales people for example involved in a brainstorming session about how to run the photocopier cue more efficiently. They couldn’t care less about how long someone has to wait to use the photocopier and it doesn’t affect them directly. However, you would involve them if it’s a session about how to make the process of whatever paperwork is required of them more efficient. They are the ones who have to use the order forms etc so they should be involved in that one. Typically, the ideal number of participants should be between 5 and 6 and up to about 10 to 12 or so. Any larger and it could get chaotic.

Who should run the brainstorming session? Ideally a manager or supervisor of the department concerned. Sometimes a better idea is, especially if there could be major differences of opinion, someone impartial would be a better choice. That way all managers, supervisors and staff affected are free to participate in the discussion.

Years ago a great management article I read on this subject I have kept in mind to this day. If you have never run a brainstorming session, here are a few simple key points to keep in mind:

1. Try not to go on for more than 30-35 minutes.

2. Define the objective of the session. That way everyone knows what you’re trying to  achieve.

3. Define the rules. Eg. one person speaks at a time, all ideas accepted, no insulting laughter at an idea and whatever else you may think is necessary.

4. Once all ideas are recorded, the mediator may bring in each idea one at a time and throw it open for discussion.

5. Set priorities for the conclusions reached and agree on a time frame for their implementation.

6. The mediator initiates action steps to be taken by maybe individual members of the group and a time frame for their conclusion, development, implementation and so on.

7. Then agree on follow-up meetings if needed and how you are going to measure progress on any new innovations which the group has created.

Regular brainstorming sessions are an easy way to get your whole team involved in matters that affect them. Why should you do all the thinking? The old saying goes that many heads are better than one. If your team feel their opinions are taken seriously by management, then that in turn will make them more productive. Regular brainstorming sessions are a must if you are going to create new innovations in your company.

How NOT to Brainstorm

Proper Business Phone Etiquette-Angry Callers

angry phone callerHave you ever spoken to angry callers on the phone and felt like just hanging up on them? I know I have, many times. However, that’s the worst thing you can do.

An easy way to calm the person down is to just let them vent and get it all off their chest. It’s usually not a personal attack against you so don’t take it personally. After they have done so, ask them what they want the outcome to be and then present your solution.

Even if they’re yelling at you, just bite your tongue and stay calm. Don’t tell an angry caller to calm down as they will get even angrier.

Another way to calm someone down is not to speak over them by talking louder. Not only will that make you look like a tool in the office by yelling in the phone, it will also make the caller even more upset. Speak in an even tone and if you do that, it will soothe the angry caller and hopefully resolve the situation.

If you cannot manage to follow those simple steps, then maybe you should get your employer to look at some executive career coaching for you as you just might need it in the near future.

Having Fun With Dick And Jane Is No Fun At All

fun with dick and jane
I was watching that movie Fun With Dick and Jane the other night and while it was a comedy movie, for me anyway, it hit a few raw nerves even after many years. Iím referring to the story line and not the movie itself.

Basically it’s about a guy who hangs up the men’s dress shoes and his suit after he loses his job after being promoted to Vice President of Communications (what a career change it was for him too) and then set up to take the fall for a CEO who tries to take all the companies pension and retirement funds for himself. The company then goes bankrupt and in the process, Jim Carey’s character loses everything. While the things that Carey and his wife do in the movie are quite funny, for me it brought home the fact that this sort of thing happens all the time. In most cases though, the people involved have an inkling that there is something wrong but for whatever reason, they ignore it. In my case, it was the worst thing I could have done.

I didn’t quite lose everything when a similar thing happened to me but I came very close. I worked for one particular company for many years and was quite happy doing what I was doing, I loved shopping for boots online for work. In the back of my mind I knew something wasn’t quite right but I had no reason really to be suspicious. The turning point came one day when I was promoted to take over from the sales manager who was leaving. It meant more responsibilities and more hours off course. I was also offered a partnership in the company which would have meant taking on the financial responsibilities too. I thought about that after taking a look at the companies financial records. I signed an agreement with them pending my lawyers recommendations if it was a safe venture or not. Not long after I signed, I started to get phone calls from utility suppliers and other places. As it turned out, they faked my signature on a lot of forms and put all types of bills into my name from creditors to utility companies to minor personal loans. I got a bill for over $5000 for an unpaid telephone bill. All in all, the nightmare turned into many tens of thousands of dollars of unpaid bills and money owed to creditors, I had to stop buying cheap shoes online. Needless to say, the people responsible fled the state and I never heard from them again. In the meantime, it took many months of negotiating, affidavits signed, one court appearance and many visits to my lawyer to get it all sorted out. Because they forged my signature so well and knew all my details, there were a few bills that I couldn’t get out of paying. I didn’t want to go bankrupt so I managed to pay them but the heartache and pain all of that caused to my family, was sometimes unbearable. I wanted to many times just rob a bank, buy shoes online and be done with it all, just like in the movie. But thankfully I didn’t have to resort to that.

While this really has not a lot to do with management as such, sometimes something that sounds too good to be true, usually is. Even if you are working for a reputable company, that doesn’t mean that certain individuals in a position of power are. If you are offered something and it sounds a little suspect to you, DON’T sign anything without getting advice first. It may just save you having fun with Dick and Jane like I did.

Managing Change

keeping up with change
Managing change in any company can pose serious challenges for any manager no matter what level. In all sectors of business today which includes government, museum and arts sector, private and non profit, there are huge changes taking place. As a manager, you need to stop spending the bulk of your time convincing yourself and others why these changes are happening. Times change, so you need to change with it or you will get left behind. As the once husband of Liza Minelli David Gest once said, “She got the magazine on a Wednesday morning, and on Thursday announced our marriage was over” (Find quote here).
Technology changes, demographics change, government policies change as does the financial market. When things are changing in your organisation, the last thing you want to be discussing all the time is what a winning organisations characteristics are. Give yourself and your staff a break. I think you and your staff know what they are. Instead, the bulk of your timer should be spent on managing yourself and your staff to get through whatever changes are happening.

 

People in all divisions of your company need to come to grips with planning for serious changes. So you are not alone when it happens. Everyone from frontline employees right up to CEO level, have certain challenges ahead of them. The challenge for you however is to find ways to manage the changes and keep up with what’s going on. Sometimes it’s easier said than done.

 

Many years ago I was faced with a challenge of huge changes within the company I worked for. I was responsible for about 30 or so staff members. We were changing the company who provided all our services that we offered, more specifically, we were changing the telephone company that we represented. A huge challenge was to change all our customers over form one carrier to the other. An even bigger challenge was to help the staff to transition smoothly. I could have harped on about how unhappy I was about the change but I chose to harp on about the positives of the move to my sales people. I organised information nights and training sessions with the new carrier and generally kept them as busy as possible while implementing the changes bit by bit.

 

Remember that your employees are your biggest asset. What you have to do is to somehow position capable staff members against new opportunities. Some will welcome the challenge while others wont. So it’s up to you to find ways to do this and manage the change. In years gone by, it was common practice in many companies to ‘purge’ their staff and get rid of ones that were not up to standard. Even then the challenge to managers was how to be humane to the ones that were ‘purged’. Today the focus has shifted somewhat and managers who were used to firing people regularly, had to manage this change to what we thankfully have today and that is the challenge of asking people to learn new sets of skills rather than facing the possibility of losing their jobs.

 

Change is inevitable. If you don’t keep up, you lose. As a manager, even you have to learn new skills that you previously may not have needed but because things change all the time, you have to adapt. Managing change is not easy but the answers are not in the old style of management. Rather it’s in the management principals which are specifically directed at allowing the behaviours of your staff to change while maintaining the morale at the same time. Yes, a challenge indeed.

Making Decisions In Management

Making Decisions In ManagementMore than ever before, as a manager, you will be asked to make some very tough decisions. Making decisions in management is part of the everyday routine. However, managers complain that there never seems to be enough time to make a thoughtful decision. In the world that we live in, everybody wants an answer yesterday. With the lack of time to make a decision, people in management need to understand the process which underlies every decision that needs to be made. You need the right skills to understand the underlying issues associated with each decision and if you have those, then making the right decision will be easy.

Not everybody is born with the skills to make good management decisions but most of us can actually learn them (sometimes either by bitter experience or other times by using someone like an accomplished business coach) provided we understand the basics of the process.  There are some common personality traits that all good decision makers have in common.

Good decision makers usually have an open mind. They need to have this so they can  listen to other peoples ideas and gain some needed insight from their input. Making decisions in management requires you to have information from a wide variety of sources.

Good decision makers also show a high level of tolerance. You need to have tolerance because there will be always some degree of uncertainty, difficulty and frustrations. Having tolerance means that you won’t be discouraged too easily.

Having a positive self-image is vital to good decision-making. There is seldom a perfect solution to a problem so being self-confident helps you to be positive about your decisions. You need to have confidence in your judgements. Even if you have made a bad decision, the important thing is not to worry too much about them and move on. If you worry too much, then you probably will not get much done.

Making decisions in management also requires you to have  certain analytical abilities. If you have that quality, you can break a problem into various smaller parts, identify the major issues and then make a decision based on the most important factors and envision a certain outcome.

Making decisions in management can be hard work especially if you are dealing with situations you are not familiar with or the situation is very complex. Taking shortcuts is often the easy way, however, having good decision-making tactics will benefit you in the short term, long term, in your professional life as well as in your personal life.

Corporate BS-The Cafeteria

Corporate BS-The CafeteriaOne on my favorite places to work was a company that boasted as having a cafeteria. It seems to be a thing of the past now days when a company will go to all the expense to have an in-house eating area for their workers. You might think that companies that have one are trying to keep their employees happy. That may be true of some, but not the one I worked for.

In the old days at school, the cafeteria was a place to buy breakfast lunch. In the working environment, it’s more of a place to check out your co-workers: who’s hot and who’s definitely not, who sits with whom and how they behave away from the office environment. Unfortunately, our cafeteria was a bit on the skanky side. They served up recycled tuna and chicken and their specialty was to make ‘creative soups’ from  leftovers of two days ago. It was also full of very tempting and gratifying deserts such as chocolate mud cakes and humongous chocolate chip cookies.

Not only did my coworkers brave the food there but some of the upper management did as well…for a time. When the place was new, everyone checked it out. Not long after, the upper management guys stopped coming downstairs to eat. It didn’t take me long to realize that they only put the cafeteria in to make sure we stay in the building and to be as efficient as possible, eat out of a Styrofoam box and eat in our cubicle.

The upside was that at least the cafeteria staff knew us all by name, knew what we did, what we liked on our sandwiches and unlike some in the company, these people were actually doing their jobs.

 

This lady reminds me of one of our Cafeteria ladies.

In Management-What Goes Around Comes Around

In Management-What Goes Around Comes Around
There’s an old saying that applies to all facets of our lives: what goes around comes around or like some people prefer to call it, karma. Whatever way you look at this principle, it applies to everything that we take on. Our relationships, our daily dealings with people and certainly in
our business dealings. There’s no escaping it. I thought about this morning while I was going about my daily work routine here in the office.  I see people working their way up from lower positions to higher ones with a bit more responsibility just to have it all go to their heads. They develop seemingly out of nowhere, this high and mighty attitude, prancing around thinking that they are now so much better than their colleagues since they got a promotion.  Well, their bubble usually bursts at some point or another. Let me illustrate.

About 10 years ago I was working at a large telecommunications company here in Australia called Vodafone. They decided to sell off their retail arm of the business and a British company bought all the retail stores. There was a huge shake-up within the company at the time. One of the team members a while before got a promotion to become the new store manager. He and I really didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things but I was always respectful of his authority. The new owners  asked from all the store managers an evaluation of all the team members. Naturally, mine wasn’t very favorable. He was always backstabbing every one of his team members, sexually harassing the female ones and just generally being a real jerk. We always told him that one day he is going to get his. Out of the 7 staff members in that store, I was the only one who was rehired by the new owners. They all got decent references to find a new job with. The manager however, not only didn’t get a reference but he was also served with papers for a sexual harassment suit. Talk about karma coming back and biting this guy on the bum.

The bottom line simply is this. Don’t let a new position get to your head. You are no better than the day before you got the promotion. We all live for in an office environment to get ahead in our careers. However, keep in  mind that getting ahead does not give you the licence to act like you are better than everyone else in the office. Sometimes, you only get a promotion because you were slightly better at doing something than one of your colleges. It could just as easily gone the other way. You have to ask yourself, how would I react if the shoe was on the other foot?

Corporate BS-Team

corporate bsThe definition of a team is a group of people working together in a supportive manner and to compliment each others efforts to gain optimum results.

I think this person forgot the fact the people who work in a ‘team’ are constantly engaged in self interest, one up -manship, general laziness and sometimes even sabotage due to their ambition to get ahead over their co workers. In fact, most of them are probably too busy in just getting their own jobs done and perhaps even trying to keep their jobs to give two hoots about their coworkers issues. Not to mention the fact that most people on the team probably hate each others guts. So never mind about team time management either!

One thing one of my managers always used to say to his superiors when things went right was, “well sir, it was a team effort”. Yeah right!! In our department, it was usually two or three people doing 90% of the work and the other 10 doing less than 10% while the balance was probably made up by the cleaning staff. If he was any kind of manager, he would have seen that and did something about it.

The other side of the coin is off course when things don’t go right, it’s never a team effort. Some managers pass the buck to others and blame the team members when in fact, they themselves are the problem by trying to micromanage everything from who closes the sales to who cleans the white board every morning. They don’t realize that by managing up all the time, they are the problem and it’s clear that they are not displaying leadership and communication skills that are needed to manage a group of people or a team.

If you are going to use the term team to refer to your staff members, then please, as a manager show some leadership and accept responsibility when things are going well and equally when they are not. Only then does the word team have any significance in the workplace.

On a lighter note, here’s a video about some fun team-building exercises

Does Your Company Foster Professional Parasites?

Does Your Company Foster Professional Parasites?More and more people in management now days do not believe that their job is for life. It’s not just people in management who believe this. When I was a kid, my father was a textile chemist from when he left school to the day he retired. He moved countries as well as continents and always stayed in the same field. He shared his knowledge with whomever he felt needed it or was asked to. He had nothing to lose by doing that as he knew he was invaluable to the companies that he worked for. That I think is a thing of the past.

The reason this is happening is probably because a lot of companies expect loyalty but do not return loyalty to their employees. So they start to think that knowledge is power and don’t pass on their knowledge and experience to others because they feel threatened and do not believe their companies hold them in the highest regard. In my father’s day, his companies held on to him and knew he was valuable to them. He was head hunted all the time and the companies he worked for knew that. Most looked after him very well. Until, the early 80′s came along and the corporate world changed dramatically. After 10 years of loyal service to one company, they let him go within one week of being eligible to get his long service leave.  He wasn’t the type of man to take the matter to court because in those days, it was a lot more difficult to take action against your employer if you think you have been treated unfairly. Not many years after that, he retired very disillusioned with the business world.

The problem of knowledge hoarding is undoubtedly compounded by the use of more and more temps in key roles within a company. If you have any say in that as a manager, don’t let key positions be filled by too many temps. They tend to gain the knowledge and experience by being like professional parasites as such and move on to bigger and better jobs.

If you don’t want your staff to just gain as much knowledge and experience they can from you or your company and then when something better comes along just leave, then it can start with you. Make the workplace a relaxed and friendly place for them to be in. Foster a culture of cooperation  and above all else, share your knowledge and experience with them. You can’t help the fact the some will leave when an opportunity comes their way but you can stop the feeling that a lot have that their company doesn’t care about them and that they are replaceable.  Make it a place where they can learn and gain experience and confidence in whatever it is that your company does. If you haven’t got one already, suggest setting up an intranet that is accessible from all the terminals in your workplace. That is an invaluable tool for people to go and get training and information to increase their skill set. It’s a small thing but it makes your staff feel secure and realize that the company does care about them and wants them to grow with the company.

As a manager, it starts with you. You can either have an office full of professional parasites who will suck all the knowledge and experience from you and move on to use it in another company, or you can have staff that actually want to be there and learn and grow with you. The only way to do that is create a friendly yet professional environment and encourage your staff to gain new skills so that they can grow as the company grows and hopefully have a profession for life.

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