With the end of the year approaching, small business owners are preparing to spend time with their families, tie up their taxes, perform reviews and continue to fight for their share of holiday sales. Another activity many will be engaged in is creating a list of goals and resolutions that they plan on carrying into the New Year with the aim of improving the health and competitive ability of their companies. When setting a business resolution, as with a personal resolution it is tempting to aim for a radical change, such as giving up a certain guilty pleasure food or promising yourself to give up a vice cold turkey. For this reason, a large number of resolutions never make it more than a couple of months into the year before being forgotten and repackaged for next year. In order to create a set of resolutions that can work for your business, you must think about the goals you can reasonably achieve and how to build

The holiday season is one that can be bittersweet for small business owners. While it represents one of the best times of year for sales, and can be the difference between make or break to a business owner’s bottom line, there is no debating whether or not all that pressure can add up to some major stress, not only on business owners themselves but on their staff as well. While it’s not a time to turn back the dial unless you are truly trying to do way too much, in which case hiring some temporary workers might be in order, that’s not to say that you should ignore the signs of stress you and your employees are feeling and push ahead without making an effort to manage it. Start the day with a reminder of your goals as a team. While every staff member is working on getting what needs to get done taken care of, people’s moods can start to rise and create the fuel for

While your calendar doesn’t have to be in the shape of a whimsical panda, that choice is up to you. What is important is that you lay out the crucial dates that your business needs to juggle in an easy to read format that can allow you to better stay on top of what needs doing. More importantly, it helps prevent dates from sneaking up on you, especially if you are a person who is prone to distraction or if your business environment is more casual. The holidays are expected to be particularly busy this year, and business owners consequently have even more on their plates than usual. Even if you are person who has managed to get things done without a calendar in the past, consider trying out this simple but effective tool. First, add major sales days to your calendar. Review your historical data to determine if there are any non-holiday days that are particularly busy for you, then add on established sales days

A small business environment is one that lends itself readily to distraction if you are not careful to focus on the priorities you have defined for yourself. This can be especially true if you know that you have a personality that is prone to distraction. A restless mind is by no means a bad thing, and as an entrepreneur you will often be well served by the ability to quickly shift gears and think on your feet. When the time comes for less exciting tasks, however, you might find yourself slipping more than you would like to. In order to manage your productivity while acknowledging the nature of your attention span, consider the following ideas for getting through the workday. Don’t over-caffeinate. Caffeine, when used in a responsible amount, has been generally found to not produce significant side effects, and is recognized as a legitimate aid to productivity within reason. It’s the “within reason” part, however, that some business owners can have problems with, especially if

The Fall season continues on, with the specter of colder temperatures ever approaching and the memory of last Winter’s polar vortex fresh in the minds of many small business owners all over the country. While the thought may be grim to some, business owners have no choice but to prepare as best they can to meet with unpredictable business patterns ranging from glacially slow to unpredictable boom. In an article on northjersey.com, a few case studies were looked at, from an auto-body shop preparing for a surge in accidents on icy roads, to a gym planning on opening new locations as well as a home healthcare service planning for sever weather in advance. Business owners need to account for the possibility of greater demand, or on the flip-side being forced to remain productive while snowed in. Review the numbers from last Winter. What happened last Winter is a likely indicator of how things stand to go this year assuming that there is a similarly enduring cold

In in article from Newsfactor.com, the trend of employees leaving their job was looked at in relation to small business. The article presented a case study of a business fighting to keep an employee who represented over a quarter of the business’s revenues. In the end, the owner of the business made their employee an offer to come aboard as a partner in order to avoid the potentially catastrophic loss of their top performer. Know what’s going on with your employees and where they picture themselves going with your business. If you have a great employee on your team, but they don’t feel like they are being challenged, it is likely that they will seek out a new environment that gives them opportunities that are on par with their skills and ability to learn. In order to avoid losing an employee because they want to do more, make sure that you are keeping tabs on your top performers and communicating with them regularly so that they

In the event that your business is hit by a disaster, whether it is a natural or man made occurrence, if you are unable to keep your operations running then you are not going to be able to continue to create revenues. If you are taken out of commission for too long, the ability of your business to reopen becomes doubtful. In order to safeguard against the possibility of being taken out by a disaster, your business should have an emergency continuity plan in place minimizing the downtime that you need to get back into the game. Have an immediate response plan to stop loss during a disaster situation. When a disaster strikes, the way you respond to it as it happens can make a big difference in the way things will go during the aftermath. You should have a well understood response plan in place that allows you to evacuate your employees and protect your location and resources to the best of your ability in

The internet is a tool that has limitless possibilities, which in turn makes it especially easy to abuse in an office setting without a well understood internet policy. That said, when a business owner is overly restrictive with their internet policies, it can hurt morale which in turn has the ability to hurt productivity. Often, the reason that employees use the internet in a non-work context is not because they wish to shirk their responsibilities, but because they might be unclear on the priorities that they should be working on. Establishing clear goals and protocols for clarifying tasks during the workday can help to keep employees moving consistently in the right direction. What does your team need to do their jobs, and what represents a distraction that has the potential to impede their productivity? Generally, listening to music and sending a couple of persona emails in the course of a day falls within the realm of appropriate internet usage. It’s only when distractions such as watching

A new habit can be the start of even more positive change in a small business lifestyle. One of the reasons why entrepreneurs become  self employed in the first place is often because they crave more flexibility in achieving a balance between their work and their lifestyle, so taking full advantage of that should be something that you think about as the seasons change. Fall is a great time both for growing your business habits and your lifestyle habits, with plenty to do outdoors and a lot to plan in order to be ready to take advantage of the prime sales months of the holidays. Creating a habit isn’t something that happens overnight, and generally speaking the best way to integrate a new aspect of your routine is through building it up gradually. For example, someone who doesn’t jog would probably not be able to adjust to running four or five miles multiple times a week, since they would quickly become burned out. Still, jogging

Chances are good that if you have an email address listed on your business’s website, on profiles like Yelp or Yellowpages.com, or in other directories, somebody is going to email you pitching you a business service. If you have signed up for CRM tools or other business services, then you may already be on a few of their mailing lists as well. It can be tough to see value in being bombarded by B2B pitches if you are not actually interested in any of them, but there can actually be some real lessons small business owners can take away from the marketing material they are getting that can be applied to their own marketing strategies. Spam dodging tactics. Spam filters are the constant yin to the yang of email marketing. Spending hours customizing an email template is lost time if it will simply get swatted out of your customer’s digital fly zone by their spam filter. Aside from running tests on your own templates by sending

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