Saturday, December 20, 2014

This Help All Business Needs On Social Media Marketing


 Many business owners are active online to some degree. They have listened to a webinar about online marketing or attended a workshop or some other event where the idea of being on social media for marketing has been the topic pushed at them.

Then they come to this point, which was explained very succinctly recently in an email I received.

"Generally I am finding that there is so much information out there, it's hard to figure out where to concentrate on for small wins, where improvements can be made with the website/ social media channels etc, marketing plan and so forth

As mentioned I am really trying to read and read and read when possible but some guidance / coaching is probably going to help me reach my goals a lot sooner"

Points for this business owner being perceptive enough to know that trying to do it all alone can be both a false economy and a source of needless confusion and frustration. 

Are you feeling lost in the maze? 

What all business needs to know on using social media marketing 

Integration

Your website is integral to your business presence online.  That means that it must be effective not just on the page for visitors but also "in the back" where Google reads it.   

Your efforts to promote your business online can't be spent all on promoting online properties you don't own. If you want to promote Facebook, get a job there, don't do your work for them on your business Page free and imagine that they can't take it away in a moment. They can and they might. Meanwhile you can use it all you like but don't build your whole presence on a rented platform. 

Integrating your website with your social media platforms means that your social efforts are captured with your website and customers can find their way to your site for more information, to check you out and to see that you are the real deal! Trust is a high value commodity online and one of the things that you and your business needs is the means to develop trust. That's where social media can help. 


Audience (Really Your Online Network)

Well let me start by saying "audience" is definitely the wrong word for what you are building. It's wrong because at the most basic level, broadcasting to your online network is not the thing. 

Before you can occasionally broadcast a promotion, you need a network of people who are willing and interested in following you and receiving your updates, and people are interested in people who are interested in them.  That comes way before you can effectively build your useful network of eyes (people) to see your offers. 

There is no shortcut to this. Engagement is essential.

If you have a high level of traffic into your business then you can begin to build your online network with those who are already familiar with and like what you do. 


Message

Knowing clearly what the single message is that you want people to know about your business is vital to being able to create the types of content and target that message to get to the people who want to know about it. 

If your products and services are geared to satisfying customers who are male, 30 - 50 and single then your message is going to be significantly different and needs to be in front of another set of people than if you were looking to develop a network of senior citizens with an interest in buying a retirement unit. 

For social media your business can use successfully, you need a clear message and a clear persona of who your content is meant to delight and help solve their plight.  

Content 

It's fantastic that we all have cameras  with us now everywhere we go. What's not so good is the confusion that this can bring about. Your products and services need more than just Instagram photos to show them off well.  Some products are easier than others to capture well in an image. Professional images need to be a priority for some uses online. That's your website, your promotional material and some other work you might want to share as a template that you can adapt and re-use.  If you are selling meals, professional product photography is an art form. Not an iPhone filter. 

Building trust is not what you get with stock photos on your website of people who don't work there. It's like a high resolution statement that your business is not to be trusted. 

Graphic design in the form of banners and marketing collateral will make you stand out as well prepared and fastidious, and your own photos taken through the day supplement these to show you as being real. 

The topics you will write about, the articles that you curate and share with a comment, all of these add up to elements of your content and context marketing. This is a critical part of your online marketing strategy and needs proper resourcing and skills, and experience to do well. 

Platform

Don't like Twitter but like Facebook? That may be irrelevant. If your people who love what you do and are potential customers love Instagram, you better learn to like it too.  Remember this social thing is not about playing on Facebook, it is work and it is about having your business in the right place at the right time for the right people. I notice that when people tell me they don't like a platform, it follows that they don't understand it and have no idea how to use it properly. Opportunity, once it is seen, is hard not to like. 

Online is alive too. 

No matter how much we might like being online, many times the people we would like to get to know and develop some influence with are not online. Or not yet on the platforms that we might prefer. Consider how you will bring people online from offline so they can follow you and make your business updates part of their day. Enrolling people to your online properties, signage, promoting online profiles offline... all of these are part of your online business marketing.

Research

It doesn't matter what you know today, there is much you don't know about how to make this work for your business. Whatever you know today, be sure, that it will not be the same a month from now. This online environment changes by the hour. What tricks some are using to work today, will work against businesses tomorrow. Count on that. What won't change is a good strategy. Your tactics might flex, but the strategy will see you through that in good health  Staying up-to-date with these changes is a full time job and not one that many businesses have either the time or the understanding to manage well. 

Research is an ongoing facet of the online marketing space and this must have a place in your marketing process. 

Each of these topics above mean hours and hours of work to prepare, to promote and to get really good at in your business. 

You can try to cover off on all of these things alone, or you get some help to do more and get to your goals faster, and with less hassle.  One more thing help buys us is a fresh set of eyes. That can be just the thing we need to find our way out of the maze that is social marketing. 

Money for jam

Once you have established your working network online, you have the basis of your own business sales channel. You can then feed it and help it grow. 

That's something you can't buy ... but you can fund. 

And it can be amazing!

Related posts:
How to start blogging for business - and what to write about
10 Steps To Local Marketing Online
The Dirty Secrets Business Needs To Know About Social Media
Why You Need To Build Your Mailing List And How To Do It
How To Get Your Local Business Found Online
How-To: Developing A Social Media Strategy For Marketing
Quick & Dirty Business Review
Test Your Website For Roadworthiness
What You Should Know About Social Media For Business




Like help with your business?

  Lindy Asimus Business Coaching
  Subscribe to Actionbites Blog

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

New Habits Feed Motivation For New Behaviours


Here's something that might surprise you. What you think motivates you... probably doesn't.

We have a lot of ideas about who we are, what drives us. What prevents us from doing the things we profess to want to do. The sobering truth is that we people are really not that good at separating what we think we do and our actual behaviour. Some social psychology studies reveal interesting myths we tend to believe and it is far different than what actually changes behaviour.

Goals and Motivation

Some look at motivation as something that we go to a workshop or seminar to 'fill up our tank' with motivation. The problem with that is that after the expensive seminar, we are back home and leaking motivation till the tank is empty again.

Rather than look outside ourselves for motivation, it is more useful to find that essence inside that connects with that is truly of value to us at a core level.

Setting goals for things that don't matter is pretty pointless. If it is just stuff that has no meaning, put it on a shopping list or drop it altogether. Pretending to set goals we have no intention of changing our habits in order to achieve just trains us to be unreliable, untrustworthy and all that does is erode self esteem.  If you are not going to do something, own it. When we make promises we have no intention to honour we erode our self respect. Whether we know it or not.

Be clear on what it is you want
Be clear on what purpose having what you want achieves for you.
Be clear on what not having this will mean for you and those around you.
Be clear on the steps that need to happen and the order in which you will carry them out in order for this to happen.
Budget for whatever resources you need to make this happen. That might be in money or time, or both.

Set Your Expectations And Make New Habits.

If you are setting out to achieve a change in your behaviour then you will be looking to isolate the current habits that you have which are preventing you from getting the results that come with the new behaviour.  Once you have identified the habits that are stopping you - then you need to identify a new set of habits that underpin your new behaviour and assist you to reach your intended outcome. Work this through to make sure this new habit has the potential to do what it needs to do for you. That taking on this new habit will achieve the resulting behaviour but won't create unintended downside effects that make problems or add stress to your life or for those around you.

Let's look at an example.

Say you feel pudgy and tired all the time and stressed out. You want to get more physically active but time is a pressure for you. You don't feel like you have any time to yourself and if you take time to go for a walk or other activity then you will be putting pressure on your partner to manage the household alone.

 New Behaviour

You want to walk for half an hour
Take time to meditate for ten minutes
Get ready for work without being rushed.

The Why - Purpose: Is to feel better, less stressed and more in control of life.

New habit: Set the alarm for an hour earlier and take this time to do whatever is required for your new behaviours.

Previously, you set the alarm for 6.30 am.

Now you set the alarm for 5.30 am. And you get up when it goes off.

Feel like you are missing out if you don't get a bit of a sleep in? Set it for 5. 10 and be up and out of bed by 5.25 am. Refreshed.

Sabotaging Your Adult Self

Now what happens, some people will look at the idea of getting up at 5.30am as a kind of punishment. Something that your parents might make you do, like you are a little kid. Like a little kid you might be tempted to "cheat" and oversleep.

But there is nobody to cheat. Only you.

New Habits

Now you are walking each morning
Taking time to meditate and reflect on life
Clearing the time to get ready for work at a leisurely pace
Not taking time away from your other commitments

A Gift To Yourself 

Getting an extra hour a day just for you, is a long way from a punishment. It is the greatest gift that you can give yourself. A whole hour to just do your thing without being required to do anything else for anyone. No obligations, no expectations from others, just a set of things for you to do, that gets you the results that you want, and makes life easier and your energy more abundant.

Now that's something to get you motivated, and rewarded!





Like to discuss your business?
 Call me on 0403 365 855 or
 Lindy Asimus Business Coaching
  Subscribe to Actionbites Blog

Monday, November 17, 2014

Set Up Policies & Procedures For Small Business



Update:

I wrote this a while back and reading it again I was wondering what I'd change. Not much but I would add that the technology to manage this is so much more accessible now.  That means that there is no excuse for businesses to be struggling through poor attention to creating efficient systems to use for repetitive tasks. Too often poor systems translate into work billed not being paid, and extra cost for business that it doesn't need to spend. And no money going where it can bring in new business. 

Documenting your tasks in the business and producing well-written accurate procedures and policies is your key to a well-run business.  This allows you to systemise your business and that means managing your resources and your compliance obligations efficiently.

 The spin-off advantage - your employees know what they are supposed to be doing - and how - and also why it is important.  That saves you time, ensures consistency and that makes good financial sense.

It reduces stress and lets employees function at high performance and be more productive and happy at work. 

Tasks To Be Performed

Start by capturing every duty within the role for that job. This is a great time to assess if this action is still working effectively, or if there are modifications that can be made to streamline and more efficiently cover that activity.

Starting with tasks means that those doing the role now can take responsibility for completing the tasks and documenting them as they exist. It also allows you to see if some tasks are better assigned to a different role, or perhaps delegated to a new role as the business grows. Of course for new businesses you may be carrying out ALL of these tasks yourself!

Policies and Procedures

























Some policies and procedures centre around obligations that a company has to ensure compliance with work health and safety. Others are just good management devices that ensure things get done on time and in the right way. Part of your role as owner or manager of the business is to make it easy for your employees to do the right thing the right way. They should never have to 'guess' what you want or how you want it done to your company specification. Getting this right can be tricky, but this is where you need to be very clear in your instructions and cover every section!

The Employee Manual 

Creating a manual for employees gives you a head start when you want to hire a new person for a role and lets them 'hit the ground running'. You can include your vision and cultural statements and history of the business to date, as well as policies they are to follow and a clear diagram showing to whom they report, their duties and he standard that they are to perform.. Issues around uniform, behaviour and pay dates as well as holiday protocols can all be set out, as well as any drug and alcohol policy, etc. Awards that apply and any additional opportunities for training or career development that may exist can also be included. Also induction procedures.


Organisation Chart

A well articulated heirarchy showing to whom each employee reports does several things. One it shows clearly to whom the employee should go for instruction and to report - and who not to! 

This also serves to clarify to those people to whom the person reports, just where their obligations to the employee reside and makes it easier to recruit new employees if someone leaves or the workload grows and requires more employees to be added.

Training & Testing Knowledge

Having policies and procedures documented is a great start, but it is up to management to ensure that employees - and managers including the owners - understand what the policies mean and that they comply with them. It isn't enough to have a policy and then for the managers to ignore them.


Performance Management

When management and employees have a clearly stated case for what is expected, managing performance becomes simple. You can see if the policies and procedures are being adhered to and should this not be happening, remedial action can be taken as it happens, to correct the behaviour, add any resources that prevent the processes being followed and get everyone back on track.


Getting this all happening can  take some time but it is well worth it. Once policies and procedures are set up you can keep them up-to-date and manage the business more efficiently and without the headaches.

If you need help in getting started, get help.
If you would like me to work with you on this, you can contact me at the address below.


Lindy Asimus
Business Coach
Mobile: 61 + (0) 403 365855
lindyasimus@gmail.com

www.lindyasimus.com

Related articles
Feel It - Say It.
Get your business on Google ...free!
5 tips that will improve your website performance 
Local business: Tips to online marketing 
Getting started with your business blog
Social media help for your business



Like to discuss your business? Call me!
  Subscribe to Actionbites Blog

Saturday, August 30, 2014

How To Set Goals You Can Reach


Setting goals is a common topic especially around each New Year but of course the best time to set goals and start making them happen is NOW. Learning how to set goals you can reach is vital.


Start With A Process


Have a process that will let you take the steps to help you achieve what you want. It seems odd but sometimes people set goals that they don’t want – because it will mean they have to give up something they won’t give up. And sometimes people set goals they achieve, without understanding that in getting that goal – they have put something else in jeopardy that they didn’t intend.


Ecology Is Important.

Ecology isn’t just about conditions in the environment. Our personal ecology - internally and how that creates action in our external environment – is important to remember. Be very clear and remember, just as you learned in high school science class – actions have equal and opposite reactions. For example ... You get in control of your weight – that might not please an insecure partner who shows love by giving you food.


Congruency

Your alignment between your stated ambitions and your personal actions need to be aligned. When you are congruent in your thoughts and actions, you are on target to achieve your ambitions.
Get Your Unconscious Mind On The Job Too!

Congruency needs help from the less-than-conscious mind too. It is the You which breathes for you and goes on doing all the things on autopilot so you don’t have to worry about them happening on time.  Help train your unconscious mind to track opportunities and keep you on target by telling it exactly what you want in line with your goals and a great way to do that is to write your goals and creating a mind map or visual representation too is an even bigger help.



Put Your Goals Into Your Future

Take yourself forward to a time when you have achieved your goals. Picture what is happening in your life now that you have achieved them. What do you see, what do you feel, what has changed in your life now? What other things are you able to achieve beyond this now you have arrived here? Bring it to life in your imagination and feel it and see it and deepen the image and the feeling and you will know ‘when you get there’, and reach it next time for real.


Get Accustomed To Delaying Gratification

If you want to lose 50 pounds and you want to eat that chocolate bar, then you have a choice. Which impulse is going to win? The one you want or the one that you don’t bother to shutdown and choose and just let “happen”?  You may not know it, but you choose either way. If you choose the one you “don’t want” then guess what. You’re kidding yourself.  Make up your mind. If you want to pile on more weight (or whatever self sabotaging behaviour you pick) you are entitled to do so. Just own it, and don’t be pleading for sympathy while you sabotage yourself.  That short-term gratification is killing your chances of a gratifying life. But hey, it’s your choice.   Going without can seem like a punishment. Here’s news. Submitting to every impulse to feel good for the moment is the real punishment. You are what you ate. You are right now, living in the sum total of all the decisions you’ve ever made. If you would like something different for your life then your actions have to be different.


Give Yourself Some Treats


Mark your progress with some treats to show for your good habits. Make a list of things you have not done that you’d like to do and make them a part of your routine as a reward. Maybe a hike somewhere that you like or a drive to somewhere you don’t often get to for a weekend away.


Plan Goals For All Parts Of Your Life


Setting goals for only part of life can leave us neglecting other areas that  need to be in balance too. We can sometimes focus on just one thing, while we fail to see that other elements in our life are leaving us hungry for something we haven’t considered.

Think about making goals for all these areas:

Health
Relationships
Career or Business
Education
Financial Wellbeing
Spiritual
Contribution

Self Care

What would you like more of in these areas? What would you like less of?  What actions might you be taking in all these areas that you’ve not spent time on thinking about, but would enrich your relationships and your life in general, both now, and in the medium and longer term.


Summing Up

Remember ... we are all a work in progress.
That’s a good thing. It means that we hold the key to the future that is most in line with what we’d really prefer. Knowing ourselves well, helps us know what that is.






If you have some thoughts you'd like to share please add your comment.

And if you'd like a copy of the worksheet to go with this post go here



How To Set Goals - And Reach Them

The Dirty Secrets Business Needs To Know About Social Media

Why You Need To Build Your Mailing List And How To Do It

How To Get Your Local Business Found Online




Thursday, August 28, 2014

Social Media Content Optimization Survey Results And What They Mean For You!

Recently I retweeted a post with results of a survey done to measure business responses to issues around social media. The purpose of the survey, was to better understand which strategies marketers are currently using to optimize social media content (and to gauge the effectiveness of these strategies) Software Advice, a social CRM consultancy group, partnered with Adobe to create the first-ever Social Media Content Optimization Survey.

I thought this survey was worth looking at in a bit closer detail.  When it comes to businesses using social media to promote what they do, we have a wide range of businesses from the micro-business working out of home to big businesses with fancy budgets and a whole team of people dedicated to running the social media marketing. Getting some insight into what other marketers are doing can give us a kind of benchmark to compare our own activities against and perhaps see some things we are not doing that could be beneficial to include. 

Planning Ahead Can Save Time On Social Media And Make Us More Efficient

While social media is not about broadcasting and does require an effort to engage with people, scheduling critical posts can be an effective way of getting the timing right and in effect, being 'in two places at once'. There are applications that can allow us to schedule posts and selectively send the right post to the appropriate platform.  

Some people push the same posts out to all platforms at once. Personally, I don't find that a good method since whenever I see that from someone I follow in different platforms, I do make a judgment about their judgment and it isn't usually favourable. Different platforms have different settings on what is appropriate. Sure that fun post on Facebook might be hilarious - but it might not be suitable for posting on Linkedin.  Similarly, something just right for connections on Linkedin, might be just too dry for Facebook. 

Those using applications that show their branding on posts, just tell me the person is not spending time to post to me on that platform, so why should I spend my time to read the thing they didn't see worthwhile spending their time on to show me? 

Nevertheless, by using it well, scheduling can mean that the most important (to us) posts - those we write ourselves or relate to an offer we are making, etc can be loaded up in advance and in a rotation that is getting those posts out there on time and letting us spend the time that we do have to be online, in a more social and sociable way, engaging and responding and sharing other quality information that makes our activity feed more interesting for those following, and not all about us. 

Scheduling posts - how long before posting social media updates are posts set up on a schedule?


Scheduling - how many posts scheduled in advance?

As you can see very few are scheduling a month or longer ahead. To do that would require a paid application but essentially could be a good thing to consider doing. If you have a lot of evergreen posts - posts that are not time sensitive and provide some kind of useful information to the people you want to reach, by scheduling a month ahead you would be planning the order of posts and the spread of posts to incorporate all of those evergreen posts, so they all get an outing on a semi regular basis.  That doesn't always happen if you are scheduling just a few days at a time.

Evergreen posts are worth mentioning, and are the lifeblood of your business blog. Evergreen posts will be the accumulated wisdom that you have to show and be a worthwhile body of work for readers to access who have an interest in your topic.

Here's the thing. We hope that people will interrupt their day to read our posts - so it is incumbent on us to make that time they give us, time well spent. Be known for writing quality posts that relate to what they promise in the headline. That way people stay willing to click on your posts - instead of being 'burned' by posts promising one thing and for the reader, clicking on the link, turning out to have been a waste of their time.

What's The Purpose of Your Social Media Activity?

Why post to social media for your business? Goals for social media 

Some people think posting to social media is all about leads. Leads are not sales and leads are not always the only or even most desirable thing to come from your activities on social media.  Imagine you get leads and they are for some minor thing you sell, not the main product you want to sell.  That's not what you want. Ultimately you want sales and to get sales you need credibility and visibility. So your content needs to work towards building credibility which leads to trust and to selling the thing you do want to sell. 

Social media marketing is like a good healthy approach to eating. Not a crash diet.  

As you can see in this result, the marketers surveyed had a range of goals for their posting and activity, with a variety of results. We cannot tell from this why some experienced success while others didn't but it is reasonable to assume that it related to both the content, the context and perhaps how realistic the expectations were, of the marketers. 

Posting a few low quality posts to social media platforms is not going to return any investment. You need to actually invest in the process before you can expect return.   This is something that is often not well understood by business owners. Before you have an audience that loves your content and wants to share it and act on what you say ... you need to create the environment and build that group of followers - or you have nobody to see what you post anyway! 

That takes time and investment. But here's the thing. Unlike all your advertising that stops playing once the TV or radio commercial is over, or the newspaper is out of date - your social media footprint has a life. It stays and grows over time and when done right, it endures and doesn't go stale. 

Types of Content Posted 

Content posted to social media platforms, and perceived importance to marketers

Some great hints here at the context and thinking that marketers have going on when composing their posts and HOW they will set them up. This is part of the process that business owners often don't appreciate. They see the post on their feed, but don't understand that it is a lot like the duck on the pond. It just looks like a duck calmly sitting on the pond but underneath, where you don't see, there is a lot of activity going on!

That's why 'learning as you go' can be the most expensive way to do social media for your business. Without that stuff you can't see... you will get nowhere.

Because we don't know what we don't know and when we start learning about social media marketing we don't know how much there is to know that is outside of our thinking.  Business owners easily fall into the trap of thinking that because someone is young and post party pictures on Facebook that they also know how to market online.  That's a costly fallacy to believe.

Importance of understanding how social works and testing what we think we know
I would read this to say that the marketers undertaking the difficult and demanding issues around verifying what is happening and developing a scientific process to their marketing, are the ones who are doing it.

If you are not doing it then you're guessing. Guessing is usually not so useful in business as Knowing. That's how we learn and develop expertise in any subject.

Is Social Media Just Too Hard For Business? 

How hard is it for businesses posting to social media?

The marketers who are finding social media relatively easy, could be those who fully understand what they are doing, why they are doing it and have the skills to put that all together to generate the right kind of quality content they know - because they have tested it - what works. 

Or they could be posting cat meme pictures to Facebook and thinking that this is marketing... 

The greater likelihood is that the other group of marketers who don't find it easy are like most businesses with no real plan for what they are doing and no way to gauge the usefulness of their activity. You know... Much like people still buying Yellow Pages ads for years without having been measuring any sales that result. 

What's not in the statistics are those businesses - and there are many, many of them, who are not even online much less actively using social media.  While that's the case it makes it much easier for businesses to get online and get that toehold on prime location on Google for what they do and where they do it. That's a fantastic opportunity at the moment, for anyone serious about making the best choices for their business.

Social Media Marketing: There's A Tool For That! 

 Do people think tools make it easier for business to post to social media?

We see here where those not using tools, underestimate the value of using tools with their social media and so are putting themselves under more stress and possibly spending more time for poorer results as a consequence. 

For those using tools and still finding it difficult, they could be new to the tools, or more likely, have not been well trained in how to use them and how to gain a personal advantage by using them well. That's a common situation in too many businesses - owners will pay for the tool but fail to pay for the training so it can be used to do the thing the tool was bought to do. 

Who Is The Social Media Marketer In The Business?

Survey respondents do these jobs in their business
This is quite an interesting data set. We can't know but we might suspect that some of these Owners, Managers and Directors could be the same. Small business owners use these titles interchangeably, but those in corporate jobs are easier to spot.

Having a dedicated staff or contractors doing the bulk of the work for the business when it comes to managing social media makes a lot of sense. This should be in collaboration with the owner or director's goals and working closely to monitor performance, devising a strategy and testing and tweaking where necessary to improve results, consistent with the original purpose.

The Real Purpose Of Social Media For Business

Social media marketing is - and should be - integral to the rest of the business and the outreach function for the business to draw in and engage with customers and encourage and make it easy for new customers to find the business. That's a full time job getting that right. The business owner, manager and director, or the C-Suite probably have other things they could be focusing on, that nobody else can be delegated to do for the business.




Related articles

Get your business on Google ...free!
5 tips that will improve your website performance 
Local business: Tips to online marketing 
Getting started with your business blog
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Lindy Asimus Works with business owners to help them improve the business, the owners' personal communication and people skills and get their business found online. Client enquiries welcome

Like me to work with you in your business?
0403 365 855
http://www.lindyasimus.com
 Lindy Asimus Business Coaching
 Subscribe to Actionbites Blog

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Are Your Business Advisors Telling You All You Need To Know To Keep You Safe?


Small business owners face many challenges when running their day-to-day operations.

Being profitable, of course, is the objective in delivering their goods and services and businesses have a range of costs associated with the running of that business.

Some expenses that businesses need to cover are easy to see - things like rent and plant and equipment, wages for employees, costs for utilities, fuel and vehicles etc. The list seems to go on and on.

These costs are a basic part of running a business. Other costs are less easy to see the value in but are necessary for the business to go. Insurances, professional fees, payments to advisors and external service providers, and marketing.

To look for ways to not spend the money on them would be like buying a car ... but not being willing to pay for fuel to make the car go.

What is often less well appreciated is the cost that businesses can face if they miss out on keeping their compliance obligations met and up-to-date.

While many businesses may have an attitude that desires the business to be a safe workplace, many small businesses particularly, are not well organised when it comes to documenting the procedures and policies they need to make a standard part of "how we work".

These procedures can seem like an unnecessary complication for businesses which don't have staff allocated or even the skills and time necessary to undertake this role. And very few businesses have even assigned set roles and responsibilities in a formal way, detailing all the tasks that are carried out in the business.

If there is no guide to tasks, it follows there is no procedure for them and no training standard for that task... no documented safety protocols for all the jobs that get done.

This is problematic in several ways.

Firstly, without accounting for every task, new staff can be left without a concise standard to use when carrying out their work.  Which means that the owner of the business can be left dissatisfied with their performance.

These gaps in documented procedures mean that there is potential for gaps in training. That can lead to gaps in safety protocols being maintained. This lack of standard in how work gets done may go on without a problem for a long time. When they show up typically, is when there is an accident.

When that happens, the business faces two problems: The accident itself and all of the repercussions that flow from this; and no way to prove that the business was aware of and followed good safety practices.

Secondly the business can be exposed to financial penalties, increases in workers compensation costs and legal action from the person injured.

This is an issue that is as much risk management responsibility, as it is a potential threat to the profitability of the business,

Getting caught up in such an incident on the job can affect the bottom-line of the business,  the reputation of the business and open up the business to months or years of disruption and stress for the business owner and the injured employee.

Another aspect of this lack of documented procedures and standards is that the business may be locked our of opportunities to bid for work that they could do profitably, but are unable to tender for because they don't meet the requirements for the job due to their lack of procedural documentation and systems for the workplace.

This can be a handbrake on the progress the business could be making and costing the business significant profit not realized.

Advisors - Your Duty Of Care 

 One would hope that Accountants working with small businesses would be making clients aware of their obligations around these issues and reviewing the needs of the business regularly to ensure that they were not exposing the business to unnecessary risk.

Unfortunately this doesn't always happen.

For those who are working with small businesses part of our role should be to ensure that any issues we notice may not be happening in the business, should be made clear to the client.  If the small business owner chooses to ignore that information then that is up to them, to accept that risk.

When we work with businesses and fail to communicate the issues that we see are a problem, we let our clients down.  They often believe that if there is something amiss in the business, that their advisors will surely let them know. They are well entitled to think that would be the case. Sadly, it often is not.

If the client buys a website they should be able to assume that the website is capable of doing the thing they bought it to do. Many, many don't.

If the client has an accountant who sees that there is insufficient money being allocated for fundamental expenses, they would draw attention to this. Many, many don't.

Those professionals who do work with small business need to have a selection of good people around them who are committed to serving the client with all care and due diligence in their dealings and who can do what they profess to do, in getting the client into the best position possible for that area of their business.

Accountants can be directing small business clients to help with accessing industry standard procedures that can be customised for the business, help with promoting the business and providing good strategy for marketing, and so on and so forth, for all the different segments of the business.


The Good News For Accountants Is Good News For Business Too

When working with businesses actively and showing the care and attention to detail that you would want in your own business, you become a value to the business, not a cost. And in so doing, assist your business clients to avoid unnecessary costs, be able to access good opportunities and grow the business in a sustainable way, while developing the business as an asset that is optimal for pricing when the time comes that they might want to sell.

 Accountants - If you don't have a plan to make a strong network of associates to whom you can actively refer, then this is a good time to develop this as a strategy as part of your business plan. Just "anyone" won't do. Without driving it, that network just won't work. Hire someone to drive it for you as their primary objective.

Business owners - Review the service that you get from your business advisors and service providers. Are they proactive in letting you know what you need? Are they giving you the quality attention you need to make the best you can from your business?

We put our heart and soul into building a business - and our financial security too.  That's a huge commitment and we need all the help we can get. Make sure you are surrounding yourself with service providers who take an interest in your success and the health of your business too.

Not all businesses work from the same ethical perspective. Some advisors just want to be in a transactional relationship with clients, just do the thing they do now and not stretch themselves to be of more value to clients. In the workforce, this is known as "presenteeism" - unlike absenteeism, the employee is at work, even if they are not doing much more than they absolutely have to, to keep their job.  So too it is with service providers.

When you have identified your trusted advisors for your business, it is up to you as the business owner with the wellbeing of the business in mind, to listen to their advice and act on recommendations that keep your business safe. Whether that be safety procedures or other risk management issues, or business development processes.

We must choose the kind of business we want to work with, and the kind of business we want to either be... or become.


Related posts

Check out my articles on Linkedin

Our reputation online is our reputation - manage it. 

Good news and bad news for accountants
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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Your Reputation Is Another Asset Of Your Business. Manage It!


Way back I did a presentation on The Greatest Asset In Your Business - an asset that is very often overlooked. It was about the customer database and of keeping in touch with customers. Many times this is the biggest asset a business has to leverage. Too often though, it is not treated as even an item - not configured within a marketing database that can be effectively used to generate more sales, with too little information saved  that could be creating more sales, more referrals and higher profits for the company.

In the short time since I wrote that the world has changed and I would now give equal weight to an allied aspect of any business, which is reputation.

Nowadays, reputation is not just an issue relating to people who are familiar with your business, but can also be a factor that determines new business that you do - or won't - get. Yes, it is that important. Your business can be under discussion far and wide on social media channels online and offline too. Yet too many businesses have no way to know what is being said about them, be it good or bad.  While other businesses are getting uplift - these businesses are not even in consideration.  And every customer who wanted to complain but didn't say anything is saying plenty to their friends and network.

We like to think that we have control over what happens around communications about our business but in truth, that isn't always the case. It rarely is.

Many businesses are still not actively engaged  online and for some there is a mistaken belief that not being active online somehow prevents anything "going wrong" for their business online. They can't make a mistake and say the wrong thing. They may believe that the business not being online means that others can't talk about it.

Of course that's not the case at all.

For any business using the internet to advantage their business, it is important  - but not always the reality - to  be well trained in the use of platforms and really understand the nuance of communicating effectively online and not just learning as you go along without guidance. Things can go pear-shaped rather quickly.  How you get that training is another issue. To get proper training look for real engagement online. Don't be fooled by the advertising they are doing, or the poor quality posts they put online. Look for some personal expertise in their writing, not just banal auto posted quotes and cute pictures.  Look for engagement and association with knowledgeable people in the industry.

For a business not using the internet to advantage their business, the chances are they are uninformed about the traps that they can still fall into, even though they are not participating online. In other words, they are not getting any benefit for the business by using the internet in their marketing - but can still be subjected to the downside risk.

 Things To Keep In Mind For Your Business In The Online Space


Just because you are using the online networks to promote your business, does not mean that every comment on your page will be favourable. Learning how to manage potential friction online is important.

Posting topics on your Facebook or Twitter wall, is not a guarantee that everyone will either agree or like what you post.

There is a view that some business owners online seem to have that anyone commenting on their posts  should only say something that agrees with them. That is not only unrealistic, it also shows a lack of understanding of how the online environment works in practice.

Some people are prone to posting hostile comments. Learning to deal with those situations is part of the training you need to have. Managing online communities is not a casual business and is a skilled ability. It seems easy enough when only your close friends and family are engaging but that's not what will always happen.

Other people may post comments that don't agree with your view. They may not be hostile but the unwary business owner or account manager may not know how to defuse that situation.  Not agreeing is actually a potential starter for a good discussion on your page. While things are kept civil agreement does not always need to happen.  Keep in mind that some platforms - the best ones - do not allow you to remove bad reviews but you can respond to them. This can actually work in your favour in the long run. It shows the reviews to be more 'real'.  False reviews are also now illegal, which is something to keep in mind if you are tempted to game the system.

Our impulse can be to jump to a defensive posture and not really understand the comment, and assume it is hostile when this was not intended. Some delete comments and reviews they don't like. That's no way to run a business account on social media,.

Deleting comments we don't like. Attacking those who don't agree with us. These are just two ways not to be tempted to use when managing social media accounts.

Monitoring Your Reputation Online 

Knowing what is being said about the business online is part of managing a reputation for a business.

To know what is being said, alerts can help and monitoring your brand online is essential.  Those deleting comments they don't like or even deleting their own business page (which happens!) is no protection and can make you and your business even more of a target for comments against you.

Just because you don't have a place online for people to complain about your business, does not mean that complaints can not be made on other platforms, websites and discussion groups.

It is all too easy to confuse social media for business with 'playing on Facebook'. Social media is the best opportunity business has ever had access to use to improve their reach for new business. It is not a game, and it requires a professional approach, a steady hand and respect as part of the essential operation divisions of the business.


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