While many companies have fabulous “strategic visions,” comparatively few are successful in communicating them with their employees. Many executives see “mission” as their role, and their colleagues as people who just work in siloes, focusing on specific tasks.
This approach, however, is not ideal for firms that want to create great brands. People in your organisation aren’t just cogs in the wheel – they’re active partners in bringing your mission to fruition.
The way you communicate with your employees, therefore, is essential. The more you can make them aware of your strategic vision, the more you can align their goals with your values, increasing job satisfaction and productivity.
Currently, businesses are failing at this. As the data presented in the following infographic shows, the majority of workers are disengaged from their tasks and unable to see the point of what they’re doing. Not caring about the work that you’re doing has a knock-on effect on productivity which, when summed across an entire enterprise has enormous financial ramifications. Only around 8 per cent of employees report feeling “highly engaged” in the work that they do.
So what can be done about this sorry state of affairs? Here, the following infographic can help. It charts some of the shocking statistics concerning worker disengagement and plots some of the strategies that companies can use to combat it. It also shows that communications need to be holistic. It is not enough to merely align your colleagues with your mission, but your shareholders and customers too. Read on to find out more.
Infographic by University of Southern California
The best original ideas in business, have never gone from 0 to 100. They’ve always taken a quite linear line from a small unknown startup to a high-flying multinational company. If you’re one of the lucky people who knows and believes that you have an original idea, then you must take the same route. Thankfully, it’s been fleshed-out, and many of the ins and outs are well-known. If your idea is worth the money, investors will not hesitate to pour their own hard-earned money into it. You’ll also impress banks and various financial institutions, and they will come on the side to give you their bails of cash too. However, this can only happen if you give your idea an initial push. This inevitably means you’ll need to fund the first couple of years yourself and follow a plan of sustainable and consistent growth.
Betting your house on it
Look back throughout history, and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of people have all done the same thing. In order to give their business an initial push up the mountain of success, they’ve bet their house. So many people around the world, gain a massive boost in funds right at the beginning of their business, due to a secured loan. You might be asking, what is a secured loan? This type of loan hitches itself to an asset which is used as collateral should the payments not be made. This gives loan companies a lot of confidence and therefore, they’re more likely to give you a large loan. You could borrow five-figure loans or even six-figure loans. It all depends on the value of your home but usually, by putting it up as collateral, you could receive a loan up to 75-80% of the price. However, be forewarned, you must be prepared to accept the consequences should you not be able to make monthly payments. Make sure you have a plan that makes sense and has shown some kind of promise such as impressing potential investors at an industry event.
The second round
Hopefully, that initial large loan will last you a couple of years and help you to make real gains in product and or services development. After 2-3 years, your business should be showing signs of great reward and thus be ready to move onto the second stage of funding. Do a thorough inspection of the business’ performance. Every little detail matters. How many products do you sell, types, buyer demographics, locations, and what kind of customer feedback you received, etc. When you have compiled all the relevant facts and figures, you should make an investment opportunity report. For your second round of funding, target venture capital investment companies. By bringing your business to the public this way, you can net yourself a number of private investors. All kinds of people of varying wealth look to invest in businesses that show promise. Normal people with no investment background and professional investors alike will be taking a look at the opportunities you offer.
By now, your business will be around 4-5 years old. You’re still just a baby, but if you have shown consistent financial growth, then it’s time to join the other kids in the playground. Industry partnerships are an excellent way to bring about the third round of investment. This is one of the most crucial incremental stages of expansion as you’re working with another business. It’s entirely correct, to act as a lesser supplier and or provider for a larger business. Go around the world or nationally, to various industry events and look for someone to team up with or act as a sidekick. A large business usually has a handful of suppliers, whether it be for materials, accounting, logistics support, customer service professionals and or delivery. By offering your services and products to other businesses exclusively, you can become a part of a much larger entity for the time being. Using their vehicle, you can increase sales and public awareness.
Heading towards maturity
Congratulations, you’ve made it thus far. By now, you should be around 6-7 years of age. It’s been quite the journey but it’s about to get serious. At this stage, one of the best ways to achieve large-scale funding is to go public. An IPO is a fantastic way to gain rapid funding as millions of people have the opportunity to buy your stock. As more is learned about your business and the performance reports you release to the public are studied, more and more investment will trickle in.
Every large business you see arose due to incremental funding. If your business can show consistent growth as the years go by, you won’t have any problems moving from one round of funding to the next.
There’s a world of possibilities out there, and when we’re trying to make every day count for us as well as those that depend on us, we can undervalue the idea of education. If you’ve got children, perhaps you just send them to school and not think about it, but part of living our lives is ensuring that we expand our horizons. Whether you have got kids or you don’t particularly value the idea of education are there ways for you to get back into the swing of things and realising that there is a multitude of learning opportunities out there without sitting in a boring classroom?
Exploring The World
The world is our classroom! And with resources like NST, we can make sure that there is that opportunity to learn without putting our noses in books. You might not be someone who enjoys reading or finds it quite impossible to do because you’re so busy, but this is why exploring the world should be part of your your own extracurricular activities. We learn so much from exploring the world that it makes us appreciate what we’ve got.
Even if you’re someone that doesn’t like the idea of getting on a plane, you can still get your fair share of culture right underneath your nose. Whether you have children or not, getting exposed to as many different social and artistic highlights as possible is a fantastic way to learn by osmosis. Because if you start to surround yourself with cultural expeditions, whether it’s going to the local zoo or watching a play in the West End, it’s a fantastic method to get out there and have more of an adventure. It’s a fantastic springboard to getting a new hobby or fuel a desire that becomes a lifelong passion.
Using The Internet For The Right Things
We use technology so much in today’s world that we’ve got instant access to information, but we need to use technology appropriately. We can learn so much from the web, but there’s an additional skill we all need to learn and that is filtering information so that it is from reputable sources. Because of apps like Duolingo, we are able to learn languages while on the go! This is a fantastic thing, of course, and when we start to use the internet for the right things, this can sharpen our desire to to learn the right things. Because we can tend to use the internet for social media and seemingly trivial things because of the wealth of information out there if we can start to use it for a little something that can benefit us we will see the improvement in our lives.
We can all benefit from a wealth of education outside the classroom environment. Whether you have got children that don’t seem to do well academically or you had a bad relationship with school, you can learn how to develop skills without the rigid structure of education. It’s important that we develop our knowledge outside of the classroom.
Work productivity levels can often change throughout the day and the working week. What you may find works for you, might not work for others and so when focusing on work productivity, it’s something that needs to be worked on individually. Here are four ways to improve your work productivity.
Mix Up Your Working Day
The reason why you lose your productivity is often that you’re doing something that you’re no longer enjoying. So within your workday, try to mix it up. Give yourself time away from your desk and from doing things that are taking up hours of your day. We can only concentrate at 100% for a certain amount of time and so it’s good to give ourselves a bit of appreciation for when we work hard. Try to keep your days varied, and you’ll likely find that you spend less time procrastinating and more time on things that matter. A more productive day will always put you in good stead for the rest of the working week.
Breaks are essential, especially as working for hours on end will lead you to go a bit crazy. Everyone needs a break, whether that’s to make a cup of tea or to take a walk around the office. Whatever it is, make sure you’re taking regular breaks throughout your working day to distract your brain for a brief time and to help reset that productivity level. Taking breaks is also good for your health, and your workplace should have things like a display screen equipment employee risk assessment in place to help ensure your workstation is promoting a healthy environment.
Track Your Productive Levels
You’re going to have times in the day where your productivity levels drop. No one can constantly work at full steam all day, every day and so it’s a good idea to track those levels to see where in the day or working week that you get a drop in your work or where you slow down. These areas can then be monitored closely, and solutions can be trialled to see what will help you get back into that productive mindset. You can track your productivity levels through apps or plug-ins that you add to your phone or desktop. This way, you can let it run in the background while you work.
Have Quicker Meetings
Meetings can end up taking a lot of time and sometimes that can reduce the productivity levels and how much you get done. If meetings are going on for hours, you are potentially wasting precious time. Try to keep meetings to a bare minimum and when you do have them, set a timer to discuss everything in as quick a time as possible. The quicker you can get these out the way, the better.
Improving your productivity levels in work can take some time as you start to understand the ways you work. Focus on taking breaks, reducing the number of meetings you take and tracking those peaks and moments where you slow down.
These days, it’s even easier than ever for anyone to be able to launch their own business. With the internet boom, a business can be set up in no time at all. So, it’s safe to say that it’s a smart time for people to launch their own company. However, if you want it to really work out and become something, there are things that you’re going to want to put in place, particularly within the first year. Some of these things are skills, and some of them are a different measure that will help you to run a business. Either way, it’s handy to know beforehand what it takes, so you have the best chance at success.
To start with, you’re going to find that the best thing you can do within your first year is to develop grit. You’re going to go through ups and downs, and you have to persevere even when you feel like giving up. Grit can really help you to succeed.
They can seem really boring when you’re hoping that the secret to success is sexy and fun, but systems really do help you to stay on track. When you have systems for all of the little things you need to get done, it’s easier to keep everything organized. Working with a fleet management company, managing your staff, and even keeping track of sales can be hard to do. But when you bring in the right systems and software or even outsource, it can be so much easier for you.
From here, one of the things that you’re really going to find can help you, is for you to be as authentic as possible. It’s easy to think that you need to do what big businesses do or whatever is trendy, but the thing that will help you to stand out and find success is sticking to what’s right for you. That way, you will find your tribe and be able to build a community around your company.
The next thing that will really help you within your first year of business is to have really cool and smart marketing ideas. As a new business, you want to stand out and be noticed. But that’s not always easy. You have to really try to cut through the noise. However, when you start to play around with your marketing, you should find that it’s much easier for you to get in front of your audience and really wow them.
But then also, one of the most important things you can do within your first year of business is to stay patient. You might find that you want to give up when you face adversity, but you have to be patient. Because things will happen for you when you keep going. If you’re not consistent, it will take longer. But putting the work in can really allow you to get results, but it takes time. So, the more patient you are, the better.
Creating a healthy workplace environment is essential for ensuring your employees are happy, and productivity levels stay high. The most common thing that motivates and influencers your employees is their happiness so, providing a clean, positive working environment ensures that you’re helping them to be as productive and efficient as they can be. It can be surprising how much a workplace environment can affect your businesses overall performance, so it’s key to make sure this is one of your priorities. It not only helps with sales and employees motivation it can also help you to reduce costs and staff turnover.
What Exactly Is A Healthy Workplace Environment?
When thinking about health, most people’s thoughts will focus on the medical side however you should also be looking at the overall workplace and even the surroundings. There are three key areas to focus on when creating a healthy environment for your employees these include:
- Workplace culture- Every company is going to have a different workplace culture that will determine it’s valued and it creates an overall standard that its employees follow. When you successfully create a positive, healthy and happy work environment that is being practised by your employees and yourself you will find that the workplace you’re providing is naturally healthier and flows well. This is because it is little for people to get upset or unhappy about. Having a great company culture can help to keep productivity up and help to retain the best, happy workers as happy employees tend to more loyal and stay with you for the long haul.
- The Environment And Health And Safety- To be able to provide a healthy work environment, which means you need to think about the physical environment that you’re providing. Whether it’s the workshop, factory floor, storage area, office or home office set up, it’s important to consider the environment you’re providing and the health and safety involved. Safe and valued employees are happier and healthier. Simply providing the security of areas such as basic health and safety training, internet security and risk assessments can help to make your employees feel valued and cared for. At the end of the day, nobody wants to work in an unsafe environment that they are worried about on a daily basis.
- Health And Lifestyle- If you look after your employees they will look after you. It has been proven that employees who feel like they’re looked after are more loyal and focused in their workplace. Your employees are your best asset, so this means you should be looking after them as a priority. Putting the effort into your employee’s wellbeing can help to encourage increased productivity, increased employee retention, reduced sick leave, reduced workplace accidents and promote better teamwork and who wouldn’t want that? You can help your employees to create and maintain a healthy lifestyle and to reduce any unhealthy and/or life-threatening habits that they may have. Try offering a reduced gym package or promote activities that encourage a healthy lifestyle. A healthy employee is a happy employee.
Easy Ways You Can Create A Great Workplace Environment
It’s no secret that a healthy, happy and well looked after employee is a productive employee so you should make sure you focus on achieving this whenever possible. It’s been proved that people who enjoy their jobs, find their workplace to be pleasant and the work to be engaging is more loyal, productive and healthy. It’s in the best interests of your business to make sure you are providing a great workplace environment otherwise it could start to affect the quality of work produced, you could lose qualified staff, and you could create a negative atmosphere that demotivates your staff. Some of the ways that you can create a positive work environment include:
- Appeal To All Personalities– It’s important to try and engage with each different personality within your office. Every business will have a combination of characters, and what works to motivate each employee is going to be different, not all employees respond to the same and may not necessarily find certain approaches helpful. You should make the effort to get to know your employees and find out what approach is best for them. Not only will you get a better response from them you will find that they’re left feeling more valued and appreciate your efforts.
- Be Positive About Wellness- As a business owner it’s in your interests to think about and care about the wellness of your employees, This means that it is also important to promote it and be positive about it. You can encourage the health and wellness of your employees by providing incentives such as reduced rates for the gym, holding an exercise class once a week and allowing them time to attend or getting involved in government schemes such as cycling to work. This not only encourages a healthy lifestyle for your team but also allows them the opportunity to get to know their workmates and build good team foundations.
- Healthy Eating- Encouraging healthy eating doesn’t mean that you’re asking your team to lose weight, promoting strict diets or restricting their options when it comes to food. It’s all about promoting a healthy lifestyle and providing the educational facts behind the benefits of doing so. Healthy eating is known to increase productivity, energy levels, lift moods and improve your health, so it’s definitely an area you should be concerned about as a business owner. It’s important to make sure you’re allowing enough time for your employees to have a proper break and sourced food that’s going to fuel them for the days work. Make sure you are providing an area that is clean and well equipped with essentials items such as cutlery, a microwave and a kettle. You could also think about providing a healthy lunch once a week or introduce fruit bowls for the teams.
- Clean And Comfortable Office– It goes without saying that working in a clean and comfortable office is going to be better for your employees than working somewhere that is messy, cluttered and not looked after. The state of an office can have a huge effect on the mood and productivity of your employees. Even if your office does not get sunlight, isn’t the newest building or the largest you should try to make an effort to provide a relaxing atmosphere including comfy furniture, correct working equipment and think about things such as plants and natural lighting.
- Offer Incentives- Part of creating a healthy workplace means keeping your employees happy, a great way to do this is to offer incentives. Whether it’s discounts on products, a great pension scheme or the opportunity to build up more holidays offering something in reward for hard work pays off. Have a look here for 25 Employee Incentive Programs That Actually Work.
- Treat Everyone As Equals- Regardless of an employees position within a company they should all be dealt with in the same way. If a supervisor is constantly late or is missing deadlines then it should be taken just as seriously as it would be if you were dealing with an apprentice or new starter. If any policies change every employee should be told about it and has the right to treat the same.
Creating a healthy work environment doesn’t have to be hard work or time-consuming. A healthy work environment not only improves productivity but reduces costs related to employee turnover.
Do you have any tips or advice that you can share about creating a healthy workplace for your employees? Please share them on Twitter @Parentsinbiz
If you find that you are a detail-oriented person, then you can often apply yourself to many excellent efforts in life. However, perhaps the most promising use of this state of mind is when running your own business. There are many reasons as to why this is. To start with, it’s important to note that any small business is commonly surrounded by competition on all sides, meaning that applying your best talent is essential for even getting your foot in the door.
Additionally, consumers are becoming more and more demanding than ever, meaning that it’s not enough to simply be good enough, you have to be great. Not only can your natural ability become a worthwhile assistant when running said operation, but considering how you may have been treated or serviced by small businesses in the past can also go a little way in helping you develop as a business operation. With that in mind, it’s essential to know how to carry on in the best context imaginable.
With this in mind, let us offer the following advice:
Consistency Is King
The thing to remember about details is that often, it’s the smaller considerations that can be the most variable. For example, if you’re not careful when considering your polystyrene packaging, you may not have the most cohesive and custom options for the products you hope to house within it. Paying attention to specific dimensions, working with excellent suppliers, and ensuring that you are careful to make those results as repeatable as possible can help your firm seem more dependable, and that’s because you will be acting in this light.
The Customer Experience
The customer experience matters. For example, differences in how the regular product they order is received is an important point to consider, because the ebbs and flow of customer life dictate the necessary need for a reliable result. In other words, if you are not the person to exercise attention to detail, your customers will be, and they will report on this in a public setting. To some extent, this can be useful for you to make yourself aware of issues, but additionally, it can look bad in regards to your product offering. Ensure that the quality assurance you are able to keep the best results as regular as can be.
Adhering To Your Vision
Businesses often lose their charm and ability when they find that they veer from their stated business positions and especially the vision they adhere to in their marketing campaigns. Adhering to that vision means continually fact-checking your previous claims, being referential to your business narrative and making decisions that line up with this or considering how you might subvert that for a better result. However, it’s true that with the best creative vision and attention to detail, you can keep these disparate elements under careful control.
With this advice, you’re certain to use your natural ability to view details in more beneficial ways than one.
Productivity, like efficiency, is one of the most important words in your vocabulary as an entrepreneur. If you want to make sure that you use your time wisely, you have to have the systems in place to do it. And that means that your office has to be designed in a way that benefits your style of working.
Office design is about 3 things: function, style and organisation. It’s only when you balance these things that you create the perfect workspace.
But what does that look like for you?
A Clearly Defined Workspace
One of the most important things you need when you work from home is a clearly defined workspace. But this is also the same in a corporate space. Though you might only have room for a desk and chair at home, in a corporate office, there is often room to create different zones for different styles of working.
Zoning is a good way to change your perspective and encourage you to work in a particular way. For example, a wide space filled with squashy beanbags, a load of games and art materials would be much more likely to trigger a creative process than an empty boardroom. Creating a space for each type of work you do is a good way to put on the different ‘working hats’ you have and change your methods accordingly. In other words, spaces influence your behaviour.
Furniture that Helps You Work Well
Everyone likes to work in a different way. For some, sitting at a desk is preferable but for others, chilling out on a sofa with a laptop is more productive. Understanding that most people actually like to have a choice is a good way to start choosing the right furniture.
Every office should have a space for more relaxed work and meetings as well as spaces for people to work individually and together. Some of the coolest offices in the world have found all kinds of ways to create defined spaces or zones. Some use quirky furniture like picnic tables and swing chairs to create more fun, creative spaces. Others use smaller pods to introduce private and quiet spaces to work. But the thing that links them all together is that each space is carefully designed for a particular purpose and the furniture guides that purpose.
Organisation Techniques for a Tidy Space
If you want to be productive, you need to be able to access your work easily and reduce the number of distractions around you. That’s why the organisation is so crucial in offices. If your desk is piled up with stuff, you’re going to spend far more time looking for the relevant things than you need. And, you’ll probably have a cleanliness issue to deal with sooner or later too.
While work zones will really help your organisation overall, you should also purge the office of things that are no longer needed on a regular basis. You should also encourage everyone in the office to spend 5-10 minutes on a Friday clearing their desk and getting ready for the following week.
Once you start finding ways to improve your productivity, it’s just a case of refining your ideas and making the most of your time.
Many parents who begin businesses do so because they want to take charge of their time. They want to know that they can take time out for the kids when they need and that they’re able to guarantee free evenings. The trouble is that it doesn’t always work out.
Far from leaving you free to enjoy evenings with the kids, the chances are that you struggle to even make one free night a week. Instead, you find that there’s always something to do. Worse, it won’t get done if you don’t do it.
This can be frustrating, and it could even lead to disruption and resentment at home. No one likes to sit at the table with someone who spends the whole time on their phone, after all! The good news is that those early dreams of free evenings aren’t as outlandish as they seem right now. All you need to do is put the following plans in place to ensure you can enjoy that time with your kids without distraction.
#1 – Automate where you can
Given that your business rests solely on your shoulders, the chances are that you can’t resist but check-up even when you’re out with the family. Sadly, as soon as you check-in, you find a whole load of stuff that needs doing. From admin to processing online orders, a ‘quick check’ could turn into a whole night of work. Luckily, automation could save you from ever needing to check again.
Something like the web applications offered by software development agency Xibis can automate virtually any business requirements so that you can rest easy your online processes run like clockwork without you. Automating out of office email replies could also save you worrying about admin during your evenings. Instead, you’ll be able to enjoy family time at last.
#2 – Separate the business from the personal
If you use the same phone number for business and personal, there’s a high chance you’ll answer business calls out of hours. Equally, using a personal email for business purposes means emails will come straight to your private phone no matter the time of day. By keeping a divide here, you can make sure you’re able to switch off when you leave the office once and for all.
#3 – Get strict about business hours
It also pays to be strict about business hours both with yourself and your customers. No one expects the owner of a small business to work 24/7. As such, simply being clear about operating hours ensures that you won’t lose custom by not replying during your evenings. Again, sending automated out of office emails is a fantastic option here. Even just adding a note on your website of when you’re back in the office can let you off without losing your custom.
Each of these simple steps can smooth the divide between your working and personal life. And that, in turn, can lead you to work-free evenings for whole family enjoyment at long last.
Whether you’re heavily invested in the political storm, the UK is currently experiencing, or you’re staying well away from the debates that continue to dominate the news agenda, the concept of a Brexit Britain can be a tough landscape to navigate.
We recently undertook some research looking at the businesses who have launched and thrived since the Brexit referendum vote and discovered which entrepreneurs had made the most of the unstable environment to create, grow and succeed in their new business venture. This included Mush, and Koru Kids, two businesses which have grown out of the business determination of two parents.
The following are some of the reasons why starting a business now as a parentpreneur may not necessarily be a bad thing.
People may be less inclined to launch a business venture when the state of the country’s economy is in flux. Those with this mindset are also less likely to succeed. Utilising all of the information available to you, such as audience growth, potential market share, current product or service demand, or any other industry insights, can mean that perhaps you are capitalising on this opportunity to start and grow a business.
There are exceptions to this of course. If your business would be directly and negatively impacted by Brexit it may not be the best idea. For example, if your business relies on EU imports, your business model may be affected in the short term as the country continues to understand its position with the EU. However, most people – including Government – know so little about the consequences of these negotiations, therefore taking a risk now could put you months ahead of your competitors and help to establish your name much earlier on.
When the threat of a political crisis looms, businesses are keen to review their partnerships, scrutinise their supply chain, and open up new relationships. Now could be the ideal time to leverage your status as a parent and business-minded person to forge new business partnerships or lines of supply. Networking can be as simple as reaching out on LinkedIn, attending local business meetups, or even discussing ways your businesses can grow together. There are even specific business associations for parents, such as Mums in Business. People may, however, be more thorough in their checks of new business partners than they used to be.
More stringent checks
With economic instability, comes more stringent checks and deeper analysis of a businesses’ background. This can come in the form of credit checks or even personal background research. Either way, we exist in a time where people are far more careful about who they work with.
Now, whilst people want to forge new business relationships, they also want to invest in the correct ones: it should only be viewed as a negative if you are a business owner undertaking poor financial practices or making poor investment choices.
An increased focus on the research of partners and businesses means that entrepreneurs work with those who are legitimate and share the same growth goals. It’s a positive for economic growth as it creates an environment of trust, ripe for mutual expansion.
British buying power
If the Brexit process has achieved anything, it’s shown the love the public has for buying British and putting money back into the economy. As a fresh British business, you can capitalise on this through your marketing efforts. When designing your website, social media activity or offline promotional materials, highlight ‘Made in Britain’ or ‘Established in UK’ where applicable. This can be a strong unique selling point and in an era where consumers want to champion British business, it could become the reason you are chosen over a competitor.
Parentrepreneurs are now in a unique position where the economic uncertainty that Brexit presents creates an environment ripe for disruption. Parents should not feel discouraged from starting or growing their business in this landscape. We would advise all business owners to focus on developing relationships that will prove productive for both parties. Now is the time to succeed when others are slowing down and getting complacent. Just remember, if you are taking risks, ensure they are calculated.
Carys Hughes is Chief Financial Officer at Creditsafe