Tough Financial Decisions to Make as Your Business Venture Grows

Tough Financial Decisions to Make as Your Business Venture Grows

***Contributed Post***

In business, our successes are generally defined by our profits. While many of us start a business venture with more than just money as motivation, when it comes down to it, what we earn is the most important thing. And finding the balance between spending and earning is always a tricky one in business. You need to be investing in the best workforce, equipment and materials to create good products or services - while still turning enough of a profit to make things a success. Here are three, tricky decisions you might have to make as your venture grows.

Generic vs bespoke software?

Software is so important in business. These days, so many processes throughout our company will be done online, and so, the right software to run everything on is crucial for speed and efficiency. There are lots of great software on the market that can fit most businesses, but in many cases you will need to adapt your processes around their limitations. If you have more money to spend, investing in bespoke software allows you to tailor everything to your exact tasks and needs. This won’t come cheap, but at some point you might reach the stage where it’s the next logical step.

Outsource or in-house?

Deciding whether to outsource departments of your business, or to hire your own staff and run them in house can be a tricky one. It’s not ‘one size fits all’, and instead, will depend on your personal preferences, time limitations, budget and other factors. When you outsource, it’s a weight off your shoulders. You know the work is being done to the highest standard as it’s being tackled by a business who are professionals in their field. However, it does come at a cost, and if you’re looking for ways to maximise your profits long term then this is an area to assess. When it comes to setting up your own in-house departments, it’s often a lot of money, time and effort up front- but plain sailing once everything is up and running. You’ll need to find bigger premises to house your staff, and spend time recruiting and hiring the right people for each role. You’ll have to train candidates for each position, from PMP and CAPM training for project management to CPCS training for those in construction. Even if the candidates you take on already have experience in a similar role, you’ll need to make sure their training is up to date and that they know exactly what they’re doing in their new position.

 Buy equipment or keep hiring?

As with outsourcing, there are plenty of benefits to hiring equipment too. You get access to a high-quality piece of machinery, tool or equipment right away without having to save. Not to mention any repairs and maintenance costs are covered by the hire company and not you (as long as you weren’t responsible for any damage). Hiring equipment also means there’s less risk for you, if your business venture does fail later down the line you can simply give what you’re hiring back. When you’ve purchased an item, you then have to sell it which will almost always be at a loss. But again, hiring equipment can cut into your profits and in some cases it’s worth investing yourself. It could be anything from printers to power tools to machines to vehicles, weigh up the pros and cons and decide if it’s best to keep hiring these things or put the money into buying your own.

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5 Tips To Launch A New Project Successfully

5 Tips To Launch A New Project Successfully

As a small business owner, you are likely your own project manager! Especially in the beginning, many entrepreneurs start out as a one-man show.

Launching a new project can be daunting and is often the hardest part. Depending on the scope of your idea, it can seem complicated, overwhelming or intimidating.

A few simple outlined steps can really clarify your vision and make the task seem less scary. Here is the 5-step process I recommend when preparing to launch a new project:

  1. Do your homework. Have you ever tried to build IKEA furniture without reading the instructions? It usually ends badly! Take the time to do your research so you can launch your project successfully the first time. Do digging on numbers, projections, other companies who have done similar projects, read articles, etc. Don’t spend forever on this step, but budget an hour or two each day leading up to launch.
  • Set up a clear and focused plan. Write down WHY you are doing this project and WHERE it will take your company. Make sure the destination/outcome is worth all the energy you and your team put into it. Keep the plan simple and focused, with a solid roadmap of how you will get from start to finish. Include DATES of when things will happen.
  • Build the project team or acquire training. Choose exactly who you want to be working on this project with you. This may look like picking people from your team with the most experience or talent relating to the project or bringing on a contractor. Utilizing people with expertise in project launching can make or break your bottom line! If you choose to go at it alone, get the necessary training so that you feel confident about what you’re doing.

If you’re looking for the launch manager to help you launch a new project, let’s chat. I specialize in making your project launch run smooth, successful and profitable! Click HERE to schedule a call.

  • Communicate expectations clearly and effectively. A great team can only do their job well if they know exactly what it is! Make sure to be clear and effective when communicating what you want. Be present and available for questions and suggestions. Your goals for the project should be crystal clear and the expectations you have for each member laid out in a way that is easy to understand. Also, make sure everyone knows how and where to communicate about details of the project. This could be through email, a project platform, a work-based chat group, etc.
  • Trust the process. If you’ve done your best to research, set up a plan, build a team and create solid expectations, the next step is GO! You may not have all the answers and it may be frightening, but in order to push forward you’ve got to set sail. You can tweak and adjust as needed throughout the project journey.

I hope this helps you feel more confident about launching new projects in your business! If you want more information or need help with the technical aspects of your project, I have some openings on my calendar this week for consultations. Let’s see how we can get your project running the most effectively so you can gain maximum profit!

Book a call with me HERE.

Have a great week!
Robyn

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How to get organized for the new year

How to get organized for the new year

I hope you a great Holiday with your family and friends! My Christmas was spent with family where we had delicious food, some karaoke singing, loads of laughter and lots of memories to cherish. 

Today here in Canada is Boxing day, a day full of great after Christmas sales. Who doesn’t love a good after Christmas sale no matter where you live.

…Before I get into that, tell me… are you ready for 2018? 

Are you feeling good about the New Year and its possibilities?

Have you ever looked at a fellow entrepreneur and wondered how they manage to get it all done and organized, well the answer might surprise you.

They’ve got good systems.

It’s true. The most productive people all have one thing in common: they don’t reinvent the wheel, instead, they’ve figured out the best, most efficient way to do every task, and they create a system to do just that.

No matter what business you’re in and what projects you find yourself tackling, a systemized approach will help you:

  • Work faster and produce more
  • Produce higher quality results with fewer mistakes
  • Easily outsource the tasks you don’t like to do

Here are 2 tools that will help you get better organized for 2018

The Magic of Templates

Oh, how I love templates! How many times do you answer emails from potential clients? What about responding to customer inquiries? Or mailing your JV partners about an upcoming launch?

These tasks and more become effortless when you create fill-in-the-blank templates that can be re-purposed for specific situations. 

Templates can be as simple as a “canned response” in your email client or help desk, or you can use software such as Text Expander (for Mac) or Phrase Express (for Windows). You might even create a template document in Dropbox or Google Drive to house all your templates for easier access.

While templates will undoubtedly save you time, the real beauty is that once they’re created, you can easily outsource things like email. Simply instruct your assistant on the proper use of your templates, and you’ll be free to do other, more important things.

Checklists Prevent Mistakes

It might seem counter-intuitive, but when you do the same tasks repeatedly, it’s easy to miss an important step. You might think you paid your affiliates this month—you might even remember doing it—only to look back and see it was never completed.

But when you create checklists, it’s suddenly much more difficult to miss an important task.

You can easily create checklists for all your common tasks and projects using nothing more than a text document or you can use Wunderlist, Google Keep or Todoist to name a few.

If you’re managing a team, checklists in your project management system such as Trello or Asana allow you to see exactly what tasks are complete, and which are still outstanding.

Templates and checklists turn smart business owners into productivity superstars, and it’s easy to get started. The next time you answer an email you’ve answered before, save your response. The next time you set up a new product in your shopping cart or create a new opt-in page, take the time to record the steps. These documents will make future projects easier and faster to complete.

Now back to boxing day… I want to help you get better organized for 2018, so, I am offering the 12-month marketing calendar program for only $77, click here to buy it now.

This 4-module program will help you plan your entire year, get clarity on when you’ll launch your programs, help you deliver high-value content that builds relationships, and helps you earn money.

Click here to get the 12-month marketing calendar program for $77

PS: This course includes every step you need to take to make this year your best business year. It’s time to put your big ideas into a custom-fit plan without having to stress over when, where, and how – ever again (at least not for the next 12 months)!  Click here to BUY the 12 month marketing calendar program Now!

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The building blocks of a great relationship with your VA

The building blocks of a great relationship with your VA

The building blocks of a great relationship with your VA

Great! You’ve hired yourself a VA – you’ve already started assigning  projects and tasks and everything is moving along just fine.

You might ask yourself, is your VA working out as planned? In order for you to build a good relationship with your VA, you need to be clear in what you need and you need to be sure that your tasks & projects are being carried out as you require.   For example, does your VA perform the daily and weekly tasks that you need done? Do you feel that you need to go more into depth explaining the jobs that need to be done – something that you didn’t expect to have to do?  Or maybe it’s going great and you think wow what took me so long to do this?

In the beginning, you could allot some time at the end of each week for a short discussion with your VA to see how everything is going?  Cover tasks/projects, what still needs to get done?

How long does it take to see if it works or doesn’t?

Start with a TRIAL RUN – When you hire a VA, the best thing to do is to set a timeline, at which time you can decide if you want to keep working together or not, a sort of test period. Ideally, this is also a good time to let your VA know all the good things he/she is doing for you and also gives you the chance to talk about the other side and discuss those things that you would like to change.

How long should the test period be? Well, that really is for you and your VA to decide.  Maybe you prefer one month, or 3 months or even 6 months if you think that is the amount of time you need to be able to make an informed decision. Just remember that sometimes it could be a while before you and your VA click, so you’ll probably need more than a month. After 3 months you will have a better picture of your working relationship and whether its working out or not, so that would be a good time-frame to follow.

One very important thing…  Do not micromanage! If you want your relationship with your VA to work out you cannot let yourself be involved with every little detail because what is the point of having a VA? You originally wanted to get a VA so you can concentrate on other aspects of your business, like acquiring more clients etc. With a professional VA and regular meetings micromanaging should not be necessary at all.

I think it’s important to remember that you hired someone with experience, a professional, someone who has done this type of work before.

How to not micromanage?

One thing that would be helpful is to give your VA a project to do, explaining what end result you need, rather than detailed steps on how you need him/her to do it.  Most VAs will ask you questions if things aren’t clear.

For example, instead of telling your VA; I need you to search for an image of a dog, a seeing-eye dog and a police dog working with their master etc. (silly example but you’ll get my point soon)

Instead you can say, I need you to search for images of ‘service’ dogs working and put it up on the blog and make it look nice. Your VA will know what to do, and if it’s not what you want, then you can use this chance to show him/her how you would like your blog to be done etc.

Another thing that helps is to create a system where your VA gives you a report on the job being worked on, whether it be every day or once a week so that you can feel comfortable knowing that things are getting done, this is where project management tools come in handy (see lasts week’s blog post) and it also helps with keeping up to date on completed tasks.

Something that is important to know – IF you and your new VA don’t click, that’s ok, just be fair and let them know what is and isn’t working. Things might change or you might have to part ways, however, by being honest with them they have a choice to make as well… Sometimes it comes down to both of you wanting different things.

If you want your business to succeed, then you need to have a VA (as well as other out-source help) that you can depend on - It is essential to have a VA that you can click with and feel comfortable with, it’s not easy, but after a few adjustments here and there, and some trial-and-error, you and your VA can end up having a great working relationship that feels right for the both of you.

Robyn here! I’ve had a passion for technology for as long as I can remember. I bring a variety of skills and experience to any business, which have been gained with over 25 years of experience as an administrative and IT professional. Learn more…

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Project Management Techniques for You and Your New VA

Project Management Techniques for You and Your New VA

Typically when you work with a virtual assistant, it means you will have to be in touch with each other quite regularly.  This also involves sending images and files as well as other types of data.   The way you communicate together will depend mostly on you, as well as your VA’s, personal choice.  Where some people prefer to work casually - just emails and telephone calls - others would much rather use a Project Management system.

Here are a few ways you can share projects/tasks with your Virtual Assistant:

Email – One of the more popular ways of sending your projects to your VA is via email. Perhaps emails is the option that you both would prefer.  It does give you something that you or your VA can refer back to if you ever have to recheck on some instructions or content given.

Phone/Skype - for certain assignments that need more detailed instructions that may be too difficult to explain by email, then it would be a better idea to speak to each other by phone or Skype.  There is, however, a setback with this method, in that you don’t have a paper trail.  In that case, it would be a good idea to phone/Skype your VA and follow that up with a short email with the key notes which your VA may need and can easily refer to while doing that particular assignment.

There are apps out there that can record your Skype calls.  Which is another way to refer back to the conversation. Personally, I have not used them but here’s a list supplied by Skype.

Dropbox -  Now, here is a great little treasure.  Chances are, that you probably already know about this product and most likely used it to store your photos and share with family and friends.   This product is simple to set up files that you and your VA can share and add to – or edit.  One of my favorite features of Dropbox is that when you edit your documents and save them, it will be synced between yourself and your VA, so you can always be on top of any changes, rather than have to scan documents back and forth between yourselves and have to wait for replies/confirmations etc. from each other

Another great feature is that you can use Dropbox and co-ordinate with your emails by very easily uploading files to the Dropbox folder and emailing your VA particular instructions that you need to have done – OR – to make it even easier (if you and your VA prefer) you can eliminate the whole email procedure by writing out instructions/log-in info etc. and upload it right into the same Dropbox folder.  So easy!   Just be certain to tag your VA in the @mention option that Dropbox now offers so they become notified (and your VA will return the favor when task is complete).

Project management systems – You will find that some VAs would rather work, as described above, with stricter guidelines and use a Project Management system.  If your VA works this way, then you will be added into their project management system as a New Client/Project – you will be given the login information in order to access your account – Now this is where you will be doing all your communicating with the VA and send the VA your projects etc.

BASECAMP is one of the more familiar Project Management systems that you might have already heard of and some other favorites are Asana and Teamwork to name but a few.

In person – should you be fortunate enough to find a local VA, then you can have the luxury of meeting in person on a regular basis to discuss the current and upcoming projects for the near future.

The above are just a few of the more popular methods of working with a VA in your online business - Eventually, you and your VA can discuss together to figure out the best form of communication that will work better for the both of you.

Robyn here! I’ve had a passion for technology for as long as I can remember. I bring a variety of skills and experience to any business, which have been gained with over 25 years of experience as an administrative and IT professional. Learn more…

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