All posts by Jon Bradshaw

Transforming Your Business Into a System With 5 Methods

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Transforming Your Business

Do you ever feel like you’re just going through the motions, but the motions seem more difficult than they should be? If this is the case, you may need to consider transforming your business in order to tune it up. Inefficient business operations not only struggle to turn a profit, but they can be frustrating to manage as well.

Luckily for business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere, there are plenty of proven strategies for upgrading your business with effective systems and processes. To help you revamp your business, here are ways to transform your organization into a well-honed system:

1. Identify What’s Outdated

The first step you need to undertake is ferreting out the aspects of your business that are outdated. A perfect example of this is a software program that you’re paying for but barely use. This program isn’t providing any value to your business, so it’s better to cancel the subscription and put that money to use elsewhere.

This examination should also include software programs and processes that are no longer successful or have become inefficient over time. In contrast to the example above, maybe you have an antiquated software system you’re hosting in-house that could be replaced with a more modern, feature-rich, cloud-based solution. In that case, the right subscription might be just what the doctor ordered. While you might be comfortable with your current system, you have to learn to let go of the old and embrace the new to keep your business in a winning position.

2. Tackle Your Biggest Project

No business is perfect, even the brands that grace the top of the Fortune 500 list. Your business likely has its fair share of problems. Instead of stressing over every little detail that needs improving, start by focusing on your biggest issues and getting them sorted out first. Once the glaring concerns are out of the way, the smaller details will seem much less overwhelming.

Let’s say your most pressing issue is your appointment check-in process. Customers routinely end up queuing for long periods because your receptionist can’t handle the influx of people in a sufficiently timely manner.

What needs to be done to improve this vital part of transforming your business? You could implement online appointment software that better spaces out client arrivals, or you might create a customer portal that allows self check-in for return appointments. When this major problem is solved, a lot of the smaller issues will be easier to deal with.

3. Organize Your Files

Regardless of the industry, your business needs to keep track of a lot of information. This could be tax documents and HR paperwork or client information that helps you optimize customer experiences. Whether you maintain this information physically or electronically, this is one aspect of your business that must be kept organized.

Start by going through your files to remove any duplicates or paperwork that is outdated or unnecessary to keep. With the remainder, you need to establish some sort of organized filing system. Files can be organized by customer name or number or chronologically.

While it’s certainly easiest to keep your files organized digitally, there are scenarios where it might be helpful to have a physical filing system handy. This will act as a failsafe if the internet ever goes out and you need to access certain information before it’s back online.

4. Clear Out Your Inbox

When was the last time you cleaned out your email inbox? As far as daily operations go, this is often placed in the bottom bracket of the priority list. After months of neglect, however, a cluttered inbox can start to cause problems or even some minor stress as you log into your messy email every morning.

Any email service will allow you to create custom folders for organizing your emails. This is a good place to start when transforming your business. It will declutter your main inbox and make it easier to find past emails that you need for reference purposes. Some email services even allow you to create tags and color-coding for additional organization if you so desire.

5. Make Every Replacement More Efficient

Every time you make a change to your business, make sure that it’s one for the better. The difference should be significant enough to be justifiable. You can do a lot better than swapping out Windows 10 for Windows 11.

We’ve talked about the digital side of your business and how it can be upgraded for more efficiency. While that is still incredibly important, don’t overlook the physical aspects of your business and how they can be improved as well. For instance, there are probably a few ways you can improve your waiting room to make the check-in process easier and more comfortable for customers.

Not every change you make will have an instant impact. In fact, some of the adjustments you make might end up being more of a side-step than a step forward. What’s important is that you try new things and keep track of what does or doesn’t work. Over time, you will be able to find winning solutions that take your business to new heights.

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4 Ways to Boost Your Productivity When You’ve Hit a Wall

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4 Ways Boost Productivity Hit Wall

If being productive were easy, everyone would have scads of Employee of the Month plaques and closets stuffed with achievement awards. Alas, productivity doesn’t come so easily to everyone. A lot of dedication and resilience is required to maintain peak productivity over long periods of time, and even those who are able to do so need all the help they can get.

It’s likely you’ll hit a wall every now and then, even when your best intentions are focused on being productive. What the world’s greatest achievers do when they hit that wall is to find a way around it. Here are a few strategies that they use to boost their productivity during these times and that you can implement in your own life as well:

1. Take a Screen Break

Most jobs today require people to spend a lot of time in front of a screen, and your position is probably no exception. Everyone from marketers to music producers spends hours in front of a computer navigating through different tools and apps to complete their daily tasks. After extended periods of time, the strain from screen light and the sameness of the work can take a toll on your productivity.

You can fix this by scheduling in some period screen breaks. Taking a pause from work does not mean switching to your smartphone to scroll through social media. Instead, take a short walk outside or do some simple meditation. This will allow your mind and body to reset and recover from the stress and strain of the workday. You’ll be able to return from your quick break feeling refreshed and reenergized.

2. Eat a Healthy Snack

Your body uses up a lot of energy while working, even if you’re just sitting at a desk. Getting up for a stroll can help, but what if you are in a time crunch and need to kickstart your productivity to meet an upcoming deadline? Try a healthy snack instead.

Even a couple bites of the right foods can give you the energy you need to push through the next hour or so of work. A protein bar is an excellent example of a snack that can provide a lot of energy in a short period of time. Healthy snacks are always best because they contain ingredients that will actually lift you up rather than give you a quick sugary buzz.

Many people drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks to boost their productivity throughout the day. This is a fine idea as long as you’re able to moderate your intake. While caffeine does boost your brain’s serotonin levels, too much coffee can leave you jittery and worse off than before you grabbed your third cup.

3. Get an Accountability Buddy

There will be days when, despite your best efforts, there is nothing you can do to boost your productivity on your own. On days like this, you’ll benefit from having an accountability buddy. This is a friend, family member, or co-worker who will keep you accountable to the goals you set and the responsibilities you hold to make sure you’re doing everything you need to.

A common example of an accountability buddy is a gym partner. Unfortunately for many of us, getting motivated to exercise is not an easy task. A gym buddy will inspire you to continue chasing down your health and wellness goals even on the days when you’d rather sleep in.

An accountability buddy can help keep you honest when you’re trying to start a business, break a bad habit, or even finish one last task before clocking out of work for the day. If you know your buddy’s going to ask whether you made all four of your planned sales calls today, for example, you’ll be less tempted to leave the fourth for tomorrow. In return, you can be an accountability buddy for them. Together, you’ll help each other to be a little bit better every single day.

4. Switch Gears

If you’re stuck on a particularly difficult task or project, it’s much easier to hit a productivity wall. Instead of bashing your head against it repeatedly hoping it will budge, consider changing course for a moment instead. By shifting gears to a new task or project, you can maintain your productivity for the day and avoid losing momentum.

Let’s say you’re a student working on a particularly difficult math assignment. One of the early problems is giving you a lot of trouble, and now your productivity is at a standstill. Instead of redoing the same problem over and over again, skip it for now and give the next one a try.

By changing gears ever so slightly, you can reset yourself while still getting work accomplished. The next problem might be easier to solve and may even shed some light on what you were doing incorrectly before. At the end of the day, you’ll at least have part of the assignment completed instead of struggling with the same equation all day long.

Once you’ve developed the perfect strategy for breaking down your productivity barriers, you’ll be able to fill your days with many more achievements. Don’t be afraid to take some breaks every now and again, but also be sure you don’t let a little wall get in the way of having a productive and fulfilling day.

Image Credit: Anna Shvets; Pexels; Thank you!

Why Your Business Should Plan for Vacation Season Now

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Vacation Season

Summer — and vacation season — will be here faster than you know it. With it comes sandy beaches, tan lines, snow cones, and grilling on the patio. School is out for most kids, and weather conditions are ideal for taking trips and spending money on souvenirs and other pleasures.

If you run an appointment-based business, you may also experience an upswing in summer business. For some, going barefoot on the beach requires regular pedicures. Dental appointments for the kids and physicals for fall sports are easier to squeeze in when school is out of session. Whatever the nature of your business, summer may mean an increase in activity, not a series of lazy, hazy days.

If you’re prepared for it, summer business can result in exciting growth and earning potential. It could even take your small business to the next level. The trick is planning for vacation season now instead of waiting until the first day of summer break officially begins. These are just some of the reasons why your business should be preparing right now for the upcoming summer vacation season:

1. Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail

This old adage holds a lot of truth in it. While no one is actively planning to fail, you’re essentially setting yourself up for disaster — or at least missed opportunities — by failing to plan for a seasonal uptick. Not only could you face overburdened staff, you could also leave current and potential customers dissatisfied.

Review your game plan from the year before so you have an idea of what worked and what didn’t last season. Consider hiring some seasonal employees to take on the additional workload or prepare self-service resources to take the weight off of your team when there’s a full house. Anything you can do to plan and prepare for the influx of business will help you delight more customers.

2. Employees Also Want Vacation Time

Customers aren’t the only people who are wanting to make the most of popular vacation times. At least one of your employees will be making plans for that same time period. If you’re not planning employee schedules in advance, you might find yourself short-handed during a busy time of the year.

You and your team need to touch base well before vacation season picks up. Right now is a good time to talk about summer plans with your employees as the weather continues to get warmer. Coordinating PTO and making sure schedules are covered before planes take off will help ensure that everyone gets their deserved vacation without leaving the rest of the team high and dry.

3. You Can Boost Your Sales With Prepared Content

Any time consumers are primed to spend is a good time to prepare some promotional content. For example, the right marketing campaign for the Christmas season can make an instant impact on your sales numbers for the final quarter of the year. Without posting any content, your business may get drowned out by the many other brands and competitors clamoring for attention. The same goes for snagging consumer attention during the summer months.

Your content and promotional deals will reap far more benefits if they are prepared well in advance. For example, your mother-daughter mani-pedi deal will flop if you don’t have enough staff scheduled to apply the required polish. Throwing together a promotion on the fly will not be nearly as effective as a well-thought-out and carefully executed plan. You should be conceiving and fine-tuning your promotional content weeks before it is set to go live.

4. Things Can, and Will, Go Wrong

Your normal business operations are probably doing fine at the moment. However, the vacation season can add a lot of strain on your normal workflows and daily operations. This added strain can make a lot of new and unexpected problems show up at the most inopportune times. It’s always a good idea to prepare for the worst.

What happens if your star stylist comes down with a case of post-picnic food poisoning and has to cancel days’ worth of appointments? This isn’t something you can predict, but it’s one of those scenarios you should be prepared for regardless. Having other staff ready to pitch in can make sure his clients don’t have to head to the beach without their highlights. The better your backup plan, the fewer annoyed customers you’ll have.

5. You’ll Only Reach the Goals You Set

You can accomplish a lot of things with your business this summer, but only if you start your planning now. Let’s say you’ve started a new business, and you want to use this busy season to pay off one of your business loans. Getting rid of those monthly payments would sure be helpful, but you need an actual plan in order to achieve that.

With a goal in mind, what can you do in the prep phase to make things happen? Perhaps it’s by designing and running a killer digital promotion that will bring in new revenue. Maybe your plan is to set up an information tent at ball games, concerts, and other busy public summer events to get the word out about your new business. Plan these efforts now, and you might actually meet the goals you set.

So much can go right, or wrong, depending on the amount of planning you put into your business. With appropriate preparation, you increase the likelihood that summer vacation season will make — not break — your business.

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How to Marie Kondo Your Schedule (or Work Life)

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How To Marie Kondo Your Schedule

Marie Kondo is a master of organization. She began a tidying consultant business as a 19-year-old student and has since become an author and TV show host. She is now heralded as a master of tidiness and organization and is an individual who many look up to when trying to get their messy lives back on track. While much of Kondo’s advice is for tidying up your physical space, she can teach you a lot about tidying up your schedule and your time management.

By taking her decluttering approach to your schedule, you will be less stressed and have more free time. Here are just some of the ways you can channel your inner Marie Kondo to take control of your daily schedule:

Combine Your Calendars

Your schedule consists of many different parts. There’s your work schedule that contains your weekly shifts, team meetings, and project deadlines. A family schedule reminds you of all of your kids’ after-school events and homework due dates. Finally, you have a personal schedule for pursuing hobbies and tending to certain responsibilities, such as bills and dentist appointments.

Managing all of these calendars separately can be exhausting. Instead of clicking through multiple calendars trying to get through every day, try combining them into a single schedule. Most online calendars have this function, allowing you to combine your separate schedules and even share them with others.

Once you’ve combined your calendars, all you need is a proper organizational method to keep everything tidy. This could be as simple as color-coding your events based on different criteria. For example, all of your work events could be labeled in red so that at a quick glance you know exactly what’s going on at work that day.

Prioritize Your Task List

Some tasks need to take higher priority than others. Subconsciously, it can be difficult to remember which items on your task list should be labeled as higher priority. If you haven’t made a priority list before starting your day, you can get caught up in the menial tasks that get in the way of completing meaningful work.

Start by writing down your entire daily or weekly task list. Next, start marking the tasks that have urgent due dates or can’t be delayed. Other parameters you can use include the amount of time required to complete each task and whether certain events rely on another person.

Once you’ve done this, you can lay out your schedule more effectively. Low-priority tasks can take a back seat to the items that made the top of your list. This can help you cut down on the busywork and focus on the tasks that really matter.

Learn to Say No

A big part of Kondo’s philosophy is learning to let go of certain things. Clutter builds up when we are unable to discard certain items or clear our space of the things that hold little value. You can bring this same mentality to your schedule by learning when you should say “no” to certain events and commitments.

Sometimes you need to decline an invitation to a meeting that you know you won’t benefit from. You can say no to certain tasks that aren’t your responsibility rather than forcing you to pick up others’ slack. And you can even learn to say no to certain bad habits, such as sleeping in or going out to eat for lunch every day.

By saying no every once in a while, you can free up your schedule a little bit. This will give you more time to focus on the most important things in your life rather than letting a jam-packed schedule stress you out.

Let Automation Do the Work

Any time there’s the possibility of automating your schedule, you should look into it. By automating simple tasks, you can save time for the things that really matter.

An example of automated schedules is scheduling links. These links display your availability to others. For example, a client of yours can look at your scheduling link to see when you might be free for a phone call. They can book a time with you straight through the link, automatically filling your schedule with important events.

Another thing you can do is add recurring events to your calendar. These events will cycle through your calendar on a designated loop. You won’t have to constantly add events to your schedule, and you’ll always receive the reminders you need for each event.

Time management requires discipline and a concentrated effort over time. However, it certainly helps to have people like Marie Kondo to learn from. Take advantage of the tips above to seize control of your life through more effective time management.

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5 Tips for Establishing Solid Business Processes From the Start

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5 Tips Establishing Solid Business Processes

Being an entrepreneur is fulfilling and empowering, but it can also be incredibly difficult. Only 20% of startups remain in operation after their first two years. That number only gets higher over time.

There are numerous reasons why businesses fail. Sometimes it’s due to changes in supply and demand or because you were in the right place but at the wrong time. One very common reason, however, is a lack of operational efficiency.

To avoid becoming another statistic, you should do everything in your power to establish solid business processes from the inception of your startup. Here are five ways to accomplish that.

1. Lean on Software

Since you’re starting from scratch, the best approach is to establish business processes that are supported by software programs. Get these programs into place before your doors open for the first time, and your new business will be in a very good place.

For example, if you have online appointment software set up in advance, you can start booking appointments before your business officially opens. You’ll have a good influx of customers right out of the gate and a system that already works well from day one.

Software can be used to improve business processes in bookkeeping and finance, customer relationship management, and team collaboration. Just be careful when adding new software to your organization. If there are solutions that don’t integrate, they will become difficult and complicated to manage.

2. Train to Get Ahead

The bulk of your training should occur before your business gets started. If you save most of the training for later, you’ll be playing catch-up. A well-trained workforce will be much more efficient and proficient, so much so that it’s worth pushing back your business opening to make sure training is done right.

Start with those software programs you have set up for your business. Make sure that every employee is comfortable with this software before they’re asked to put it to use. With proper training for each tool, there will be fewer problems and delays in the opening stages of your business.

3. Learn From Others

You can discover a lot by analyzing the failures and successes of other businesses. You can learn from the errors they committed and take note of how they did the things that turned out well. This will provide you with a list of dos and don’ts for running your business at full capacity right from the start.

Let’s say you’re opening up a bakery. Before you fire up the ovens on your first day, take a look at other local food establishments to see what you can learn from them. Do they all use the same point-of-sale system, and if so, what’s the reason for that? Do they use similar methods of staffing that appear to aid in productivity? Having this information up front can be incredibly valuable because it eliminates a lot of the trial and error new businesses experience.

Networking is also a valuable practice for new business owners. By speaking with experienced professionals, you can get tips on establishing solid business practices in the beginning. Not only that, but through networking, you can learn which suppliers are reliable and efficient and establish relationships with them.

4. Build Workflows and Workforces

Whether it’s creating a product or providing a service, there is a workflow that gets you and your customer from point A to point B. The more straightforward this workflow is, the more consistent and efficient the process will be as a whole. When building your preliminary workflows, try to keep them as linear as possible. More moving parts mean more room for error.

You should also be building your workforce and directing them toward efficiency. Every member of your team should have a defined role and title. This way they’ll always know what their responsibilities are and where they need to turn for help.

5. Track Data From the Start

While it’s good to be prepared, you can’t keep pushing off your grand opening until every aspect of your business model is flawless. What you can do instead is kick your business off and start tracking relevant metrics immediately.

Using real-time data, you can make small adjustments to your business as soon as you open. Examples of useful data metrics include website traffic, sales numbers, and social media engagement. The sooner you start tracking data, the quicker it can be put to use.

It’s important to take sample size into consideration as well. You should give your business at least a little bit of time to accumulate data on such things as daily customer traffic and sales. That way you can be working with averages rather than outliers. You’ll know the data you collect will represent accurate information that has been sustained over time.

The earliest stages of your business can be the most important ones. It’s important to get started on the right foot so you can hit the ground running. Implementing these tips can help your business enjoy a stellar opening and pave the way toward longevity and prosperity.

Image Credit: Anna Shvets; Pexels; Thank you!

Never Tell People You’re ‘Too Busy’ (But Show Them That Your Time Matters)

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Never Tell People Too Busy Show Them Your Time Matters

As a business owner, your time is always in short supply and you may feel like you’re constantly busy. It’s a struggle to fit every meeting, deadline, phone call, and commitment into your online calendar. That’s even before you make time for family and personal endeavors.

Part of this balancing act involves dealing with the people around you. You never want them to feel like you’re too busy to be an effective leader, business owner, parent, or friend. Giving them this impression can hurt your relationships, reputation, and business.

Managing your time while still showing others that their time matters to you is a challenge, but it’s not an impossible one. Here are a few methods you can implement to find a balance and keep everyone — including yourself — happy:

Communicate Your Priorities

Make sure anyone who wants to meet with you knows your top priorities. This will set accurate expectations for the future about how you use your time. For example, if you explain to your clients that your weekends are reserved for family activities, they’ll be more likely to respect your boundaries during those days.

Your responsibility is to then reciprocate that respect for your work connections. Intentionally set aside time where you’re able to devote your attention to work meetings and client phone calls without interruption. This way you’ll always be able to address your clients’ and colleagues’ needs as they come up without letting work spill over into your other time commitments.

Make Efforts to Reschedule

When you have to decline events, which will happen on occasion, make an effort to reschedule if possible. This will show others that their time and concerns are still important to you.

If you need to cancel a scheduled meeting, be the one to take the initiative when rescheduling. Words are empty if they’re not backed by actions. By reaching out with your updated availability, the person you’re meeting with will know that you actually want to meet with them and respect the time they’re setting aside for you.

The biggest problem with rescheduling is trying to resync calendars. This can be easily bypassed by using scheduling links. You can send over a link containing your availability in a single email. The other party can then select an available time slot to reschedule the meeting. No extensive back-and-forths are required.

Focus on Shorter Engagements

Instead of continuing to turn down meetings and commitments because you’re too busy, try focusing on shorter engagements. They will take a smaller portion of your day while still allowing you to touch base with the many important people you need to interact with.

Those long, weekly meetings can be replaced by emails and quick phone calls interspersed throughout your day. The best part is that you don’t have to tell anyone that you’re taking this new approach because you’re feeling too busy to commit to large time blocks. All they’ll see is that you’re committed to reaching out regularly and making an effort to respect their time by being brief and direct.

Improve Your Time Management

If you truly value your personal time and that of others, you’ll make a greater effort to improve your time management. Few people are actually using all of their time effectively. There are many improvements you can likely make that will open up more time for other people.

For example, you might have missed the last team brainstorming meeting because you had a few conflicting deadlines to address. How many of these conflicts could have been avoided through better time management? It might be time to start time blocking or looking for ways to fight procrastination so that this doesn’t occur in the future.

Recognize When Being Busy Isn’t Enough

An important side note is that there is a key difference between being “busy” and being productive. Being busy isn’t always a good thing, especially if you’re not accomplishing much. Not only will busywork make it more difficult to show that your time matters, but it can also lead to higher levels of stress and anxiety.

Those are good reasons to begin prioritizing your regular task list. Some commitments, such as meetings with tenured clients or nightly dinners with family, will receive higher priority. Conscious prioritization will help you to decide which tasks and events you can justify putting off or rescheduling and which ones deserve your attention the most each day.

Of course, this doesn’t mean those low-priority tasks should be completely forgotten. You can’t get out of cleaning out your inbox forever. What’s important is not allowing these smaller tasks to derail everything on your schedule, especially those responsibilities that are of greater magnitude.

Respecting your time and the time of others is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner in any industry. Keep working on it, and everything from project management to client retention will become easier for you.

Image Credit: Anna Shvets; Pexels; Thank you!

Why You Should Say Goodbye to ‘Crazy Busy’ Once and for All

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Why You Should Say Goodbye Crazy Busy

Lots of professionals like to brag about how loaded their schedules are and how many events and projects they have on their plate. While it certainly is admirable to be a productive contributor to society, this attitude can have a negative impact. It isn’t always a good thing to be crazy busy all of the time.

When you’re busy just for the sake of being busy, you’ll jump around from task to task without accomplishing much. You’re also more prone to experience high levels of stress and anxiety when your schedule is always jam-packed and you’re rushing from place to place. Not to mention, you’ll likely miss deadlines you have to meet due to the pressure you’re under.

By improving your time management skills, you can get just as much done in less time. Instead of being insanely busy, you can enjoy the same accomplishments while also having time to spend on yourself and your family. This leads to a much more fulfilling life. Ready to say goodbye to the crazy busyness once and for all? Here’s what you need to do:

Learn to Say ‘No’

It can be a real challenge to decline a meeting or an appointment, especially when it pertains to your business. What many business professionals often overlook is that firing on all cylinders 24/7 can lead to high stress and burnout. Your business will be in greater jeopardy if you’re not taking care of your mental health than if you miss a single meeting.

When your social meter is drained, don’t force yourself to accept an event invitation. If the other party has something important to meet about, they would much rather you be there when you are functioning at 100%. You can always delegate a representative to attend the event for you or ask for a reschedule while you take some time for yourself.

If you struggle with putting yourself first, add self-care time to your calendar. People will respect that you are dedicating time to recharge so that you’re always operating at full capacity. With numerous changes to the workplace, such as remote work and flexible schedules, you’ll need to resist the impulse to be always “on.” You’ll be surprised by how supportive many people will be when you openly discuss your personal needs.

Create Time Blocks (Including Breaks)

When working on several projects each day, you’ll find a lot of success by setting time blocks for yourself. This is a scheduling tactic that involves breaking down your day into set time increments. Within each of these schedule blocks, you focus all of your time and attention on the individual task at hand and nothing else.

This time management method works in two ways. First, it helps you focus your attention on one task at a time. If you stick with your time block, you won’t let distractions stop you from accomplishing your daily goals. Secondly, time blocks allow you to map out your day more effectively. If you’re trying to get less busy and more efficient, your time blocks can reflect that.

You should also include break time in your time blocks. During a busy day, it can be hard to take a step back from your labors or even justify doing so. If breaks are purposefully scheduled into your day, you’ll find it easier to step away for 10 minutes and keep your energy and morale high throughout the entire workday.

Set Goals for Each Meeting

Some people hold meetings just for the sake of having meetings. Gathering together looks like productivity on the outside. In reality, business professionals are wasting an unbelievable number of hours in meetings that could be used in dozens of more beneficial ways.

Never hold a meeting without a definitive plan. The lack of an agenda is a red flag that an upcoming meeting has no real purpose or direction. Instead of sitting in an hour-long meeting grasping at straws, you could be wrapping up projects or making sales calls.

When a meeting has a specific goal, it offers actual value. Everyone in the meeting can now work toward an endpoint, whether it’s a new tagline for a rebrand or analyzing the financial numbers from the last quarter. Once you’ve met the goal, you can adjourn the meeting without taking up any more precious time from the team’s schedule.

Get Into Automation

A lot of business is busywork. It might feel good that you’re chipping away at tasks that benefit your company, but there’s often a better way. Many of these menial tasks can be automated and completed with just as much efficacy.

Examples of automation include email marketing, employee time tracking, and even data entry. The more tasks you are able to automate, the more your schedule opens up. You can now focus your time on larger projects that require higher-level attention rather than going from routine task to routine task trying to keep your business running every day.

Try to replace busyness with enhanced productivity in the coming weeks. Pay attention to how you feel at the end of your trial period. Do you feel less stressed? Now look at your achievements during that same amount of time. You’ll be amazed to see how much you can accomplish by making this simple shift in your mindset.

Image Credit: Christina Morillo; Pexels; Thank you!

 

5 Ways Businesses Can Bring In More Customers This Spring

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Bring More Customers Business This Spring

People tend to get out and patronize businesses more frequently when the weather is nice in the spring. However, they may also need an incentive to do so. That’s where marketing comes in. When running a business, you need to embrace the changing season and break out some fresh strategies that will bring in new customers.

Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar shop or a completely digital business, there are several things you can do to increase your customer base this spring. Here are five ideas to try en route to a successful second quarter:

1. Boost Your Marketing Efforts

Now that the weather is warming up, it’s time to turn the heat up on your marketing game. You must grab the attention of consumers as soon as they start making their way outside. If you’ve positioned yourself to stand out, then once the weather is nice, your business will be booming.

Use all of your marketing channels to promote your business. Create a “Spring Discount” post to put on your website and showcase your new products and service offerings on social media. Try to put some form of marketing out every single day to maximize your exposure.

2. Consider Growing Your Team

Another way to attract more customers is to grow your team. With added employees, you can accomplish more with your business, such as helping more customers in a single time slot or increasing your deliveries. There are three different ways to grow your team this spring.

First, look at hiring some seasonal help. This is something that delivery companies often do around the holidays when there’s a huge influx of packages. Seasonal workers don’t require a long-term commitment and will be a great help when you’re running small promotions.

Your other options are hiring additional full-time employees or contractors. For example, you can hire a new full-time team member who specializes in digital marketing. Alternatively, you could engage a contracted marketer who only gets paid for specific campaigns, like the ones you’re planning to implement this spring.

3. Know Current Trends in Your Business Niche

Trends in business are constantly changing. While your company should have a model of consistency, you need to keep an eye out for trends as they arise. Adding new looks and stylish offerings to your product and service lines can give you considerable boosts in sales and foot traffic when implemented correctly. After the trend fades, you’ll still have your established business model standing strong.

Let’s say you’re a wedding planner looking to book a bunch of springtime weddings. You’ll have better success if you know the latest wedding trends. This could be a specific flower arrangement, color scheme, or even a playlist that the betrothed couple fell in love with on social media. Have all of this at the ready, and use it in your marketing, and you’ll have plenty of customers asking for your services.

4. Watch Your Competitors

Your business won’t be the only one making moves in the springtime. Keeping an eye on your rivals will help you stay competitive as you strive to draw in new customers. If you’re not aware of the strategies they’re implementing, it will be more difficult to optimize your own.

For example, you might be the owner of a local gym with a competing gym a few blocks away. By doing your homework, you find out that they’re unrolling a program to incentivize new membership signups. With that information, you will know to offer something even better to attract those same new members.

You should also learn from the mistakes your competitors make. If a competing salon runs a first-time customer promotion and loses money, you’ll know not to run the same deal. Instead, make some adjustments to their promotion so it works better for your business.

5. Get Involved Locally

Your community will likely be putting on events to celebrate the changing of the season. Getting involved in these events will help you put your business on the map as well as give back to the customers who live in the surrounding area.

If you run a veterinary clinic, offer to set up a booth at the community pet adoption event and provide pet treat samples and discounted products. Own a med spa? Sign up for a space at the next community wellness event. Put up a banner, provide product samples, and hand out fliers, and you’re sure to pick up some new customers from each event you attend.

Whether your business typically slows in the winter or you’ve enjoyed a steady shopping season during the colder months, a little spring marketing can go a long way toward boosting your business. Shed that winter coat and get ready for the best spring your business has ever experienced. If you start laying out your spring marketing plans before the last bit of snow melts, new customers will be lining up outside your door in no time.

Image Credit: Thirdman; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Security Measures Appointment-Based Businesses Should Implement This Year

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Security Measures Appointment Based Businesses Implement

Many modern businesses are placing a heavy emphasis on cybersecurity, and with good reason. With so many aspects of life taking place in the digital realm these days, it’s more important than ever to be careful with company data and personal information on the internet. However, this doesn’t mean that you should slack off on physical security measures for your appointment-based business.

Sad though it is, there are real dangers in the world you need to be ready for. It’s best to adopt the attitude of expecting the best while preparing for the worst. With that thought in mind, here are some security measures that your appointment-based business should consider putting in place this year:

1. After-Hours Security

Depending on the nature of your business, you may carry stock or supplies that offer an attractive target for thieves. For example, hair salons across the country have long been victimized by crooks who steal costly hair extensions, causing thousands of dollars in losses. Most such incidents will occur after hours when there’s no human presence to deter mischief. You can keep your guard up and dissuade misbehavior by installing a few gadgets and security measures in your place of business.

Auto-locks on doors will ensure that a back door for employees is never left unlocked by accident. Security cameras on the exterior and interior of your business will catch thieves or vandals in the act and also act as a deterrent that will cause those up to no good to think twice before trying anything. Motion-sensor lights are often enough to spook potential robbers away, illuminating faces for security cameras and giving the impression that someone might be nearby.

You can also install cameras and a lighting system on the inside of your business that will at least help you track down anyone who successfully breaks into your building. Be sure to have adequate locks on filing cabinets and any other places critical information might be stored. A break-in could result in information being stolen, so you want to make sure your business is protected. You might even go as far as to store customer information on hard drives that are locked up separately.

2. First Responder Connections

Establishing a good relationship with your local first responders is always a good idea. With this relationship in place, you can share plans you have developed in case of any sort of emergency situation. Being familiar with your place of business means that responders can be exactly in the right place at the right time when needed.

For example, you might reach out to your local police station and ask to arrange a short meeting with a representative. You can give them a walkthrough of your business, its alarm system, exit points, and any other factors that seem worth pointing out. This outreach will enable officers to more effectively address any security issues that occur even if they beat you to the site. Trained responders can also provide an accurate risk assessment to help you strengthen the security of your business.

3. Emergency Planning

As noted, an emergency plan is something you can share with first responders, but it’s also something you should always have on hand for yourself and your employees. Consider the emergencies you could potentially face — a catastrophic weather event, a hostile intruder, a flood, etc. — and develop response protocols for each. You never want to have to face an active shooter or an incoming tornado, but you’ll be much better off if you have a plan set beforehand.

A common example many establishments have is a fire escape plan posted throughout the building. The next time you take a trip, you might notice that your hotel room has a map showing you where the nearest fire exit is located. This isn’t because the hotel is expecting a fire to occur, but because they want to ensure everyone is kept safe should disaster ever strike. You should follow their lead to help ensure the safety of your customers and employees.

4. Adequate Insurance

You might not be able to thwart every single security threat you face. In that case, you’d better be insured. Insurance will help mitigate the cost of theft and damage that might occur to your business so that you don’t take too many financial hits.

There are several different types of business insurance you should look into, such as liability insurance, practitioner’s insurance, and auto insurance if you use a company car. You can even get data breach insurance for a cyberattack. Your insurance agent can explain the types of coverage you need, including some you may not have thought of. Then you can take the steps required to get protection as soon as possible.

It’s always better to be safe than to be sorry you didn’t do more to boost the security of your business. Rather than wait until the worst occurs, start implementing security measures today that will keep your business, your employees, and your customers safe.

Image Credit: Dan Nelson; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Cybersecurity Protocols to Add to Your Appointment-Based Business

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Cybersecurity Protocols Appointment Based Business

Running a business in the 21st century provides access to so many useful tools. From electronic mail to online appointment software, technology makes every aspect of business so much easier. However, there are some cybersecurity dangers of relying so heavily on technology that you should be wary of.

Cybersecurity threats cost businesses trillions of dollars annually. That’s right, global corporations are losing trillions of dollars due to different forms of cybercrime. You can lose a lot of money and credibility when data breaches occur in your own organization. Small businesses, in particular, can be delivered massive blows as they often lack the necessary resources to recover from a cyberattack.

To survive in this day and age, you need to add these cybersecurity protocols to your appointment-based business as soon as possible. This guide will walk you through what each of them entails and why they will be of benefit to you and your customer base:

1. Require Two-Factor Authentication

Most organizations require at least one form of identification in order to book an appointment. More often than not, all that is required is a username and password used to access some sort of customer or patient portal. While this is better than using no barriers at all, you can do better.

Two-factor authentication is gaining popularity among businesses because it’s a simple addition that adds a lot of extra security. In addition to the username and password, customers need to use an additional method of verification before booking an appointment or making a payment. This can be done by accepting a security code via email or text message in a matter of seconds.

Thanks to two-factor authentication, anyone trying to access your customer’s account will be stopped in their tracks unless they also have access to their smartphone or other devices. This extra barrier to entry doesn’t take up much extra time for the consumer, but it’s enough to fend off most intruders.

2. Implement Security Programs

There may be times when customers need to input sensitive info when booking an appointment or updating their customer portal. You hold a great responsibility to protect any information that customers share with you. Implementing digital security programs will help your customers feel safe and protect the information you collect from them.

For example, you can force visitors to your website to open a new secure window using a security program whenever they need to enter sensitive information. This is a strategy many banks implement to prevent the risks associated with account information.

Of course, there is a certain amount of responsibility that consumers need to take when handling their personal info online. Still, the company in question will almost always be the first to be blamed if data is ever breached. Don’t take any chances and use a security program to keep your customers as safe as is within your power.

3. Secure Your Mobile App

In addition to protecting customers using your website, you should also make sure to keep the mobile resources you use safe. In particular, if you offer a mobile app, you should have security options enabled and even required for consumer use.

Common security options for mobile apps include requiring an account ID with a PIN, including a secret word chosen by the customer, or even FaceID for select devices. Each of these options helps to keep customer accounts secure in a variety of situations.

Another feature you should consider implementing is automatic inactivity log-out. This feature boots customers off of the app or website if they are inactive for a period of time. This reduces the risk of someone having time to access their account in person or hack into it online.

4. Safeguard Your Network

Your cybersecurity protocols should extend all the way to your lobby. If you offer complimentary Wi-Fi to your guests, you should only do so on a secure network. Public Wi-Fi is notorious for being insecure and an unsafe browsing option. So, you don’t want your place of business to be an example of that.

Start by making sure your physical equipment is in a secure location. You can spend a lot of time working on the digital side of security, but someone with physical access to your internet router can override all of that.

Next, you can start working on the digital side of things. Put up an extra firewall, require login for internet use, and separate the access points between your business hardware and personal devices in your lobby. Keep your software and hardware updated, and you shouldn’t encounter very many problems.

One should never take cybersecurity lightly. You would be frustrated if a business you patronize lost your personal data, so don’t let a data compromise happen to your customers on your watch. Implement these protocols without delay and continue to look for ways to keep your security as strong as possible.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!

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