Want to Grow Your Business? Spend Your Time Running The Business!

Running a business is hard; it requires the skill, enthusiasm and dedication of its owners and managers for the business to be ultimately successful. As a result, one of the key assets of any small business is therefore the time of these owners and managers. After seeking feedback from the SME community it is surprising to find just how much time owners still spend on tasks such as accounting and business administration in comparison to the strategic running and marketing of the business. This ultimately results in owners struggling to grow their business with most of their time being allocated to completing the never ending tasks of today. All businesses should try and dedicate focused time on their strategic aims and business growth; however, this requires a structured time management plan to ensure that business as usual tasks continue to be completed to the required standard. Time management remains one of the most demanding aspects of running any business. There could be disastrous repercussions for any business owner that spends too much time on business strategy over regular accounting and business administration. Whilst too much time spent on business admin and accounting can limit time available for marketing and running the business consequently hampering the long term growth prospects of the business.The time management conundrum is solved by purchasing accounting software. There isn’t anything more important in a small business than having a healthy balance sheet and a sustainable cash flow into the business. Accounting software allows owners of SMEs to have a firm grip on company financials whilst demanding considerably less time than would have been required manually completing and submitting forms. Anybody who is well versed in completing annual returns and VAT returns will appreciate the time these can take to submit correctly. The time freed up from the form filling can then be spent on growing the business strategically and marketing the business to prospective clients. This reallocation of time from form filling to growing the business can be the difference between success and failure of an SME.On this basis it is hard to think why more owners haven’t invested in an accounting software package? After doing some research in the SME community we found that some owners mistakenly perceived accounting software to be only suitable for medium/large businesses. When asked about the benefits of accounting software the small business owners we asked focused on the large scale management of corporate expenses and regulatory approved accrual of corporate accounts; obviously not relevant to small businesses. Whilst these benefits may be true for large organisations; accounting software is equally beneficial, if not more, in the small business world. The benefits of accounting software for a small business, as discussed above, are more about freeing up time and ensuring that the company financials are well structured.Another misperception of accounting software is that it is expensive – this simply isn’t true. It is true that there are a range of prices, but as all things in life, it depends what features you are looking from your product. You can pick up a product that simply focuses on general ledger, accounts payable and accounts receivable. These products whilst not very expensive will produce very professional accounts and be more than adequate for most small businesses. However, companies with slightly larger income streams that would like the added functionality of features such as payroll, job costing and banking integration can expect to pay more for these additional features.Whilst accounting software does add value and structure to a small business it is imperatively important that a small business owner buys an appropriate package to meet their business needs. There are many accounting software solutions in the market and if an SME buys a product purely based on brand or recommendation it will likely end up with an expensive, feature rich product that is never optimised. This all makes sense, however, many small business owners have no idea what their requirements are. Below are some accounting software features that are standard for a small businesses to consider when buying their first accounting software package.
General Ledger – This is ability to formulate simple summary accounts from the income received and costs incurred through company expenses. General Ledger will allow business owners to complete annual returns quickly and simply.
Accounts Receivable – This just allows owners of businesses to help with the ordering process of sales. For example, creating and sending invoices, accepting payments and dealing with the taking of moneys. Being unorganised in the process of collecting customer payments is a one way street to business problems. All small businesses should seek help in organising this area of the business.
Accounts Payable – Gives businesses the ability to make purchases in an organised manner. Provides the ability to create purchase orders, print cheques and complete vendor checks. Company expenses are as important to profitability as income – once again making sure that these outgoings are well organised is critical.
Small businesses would benefit greatly from purchasing an accounting software package both in terms of freeing up time to be spent on running the business and having 100% confidence in the financial health of their business. If you run a small business and haven’t got an effective accounting software package then investigate your business requirements and get one today!

Entrepreneurs Must Focus on Their Core Business

“You know me as a wine expert, but in another life I would have been a bishop or a dry cleaner, or a dry-cleaning bishop.” Oz ClarkeYour core business
Now to take you through some concrete examples from the four business attempts mentioned in my earlier post, “Do what you do”.Importantly, all the businesses were started by guys who had at least five years’ experience in the waste management industry. These entrepreneurs all had great experience in the sales and operational aspects of their employers and decided to go out on their own, within the same industry. Three of the employers were huge waste management companies that had existed for many years and still do. They held contracts for the waste management and removal of a variety of sites including office and business parks, restaurants and hotels, shopping centres, sports facilities and other venues.The point of my short case studies is that your business should focus on what it does. Focus on core business. Sound simple and rather obvious? Read on…The first business
“John” was off to a flying start and by focusing on sales of waste management service contracts, he was quickly able to keep his small truck occupied during all working hours. After approximately a year, he successfully bought another truck due to the increasing demand for his services. The business successfully serviced its clients and looked positive.A few months after acquiring his second truck, and with the “green” movement burgeoning, it was suggested to him that he include on-site recycling in his services. He offered this additional service and soon found a keen following by shopping centres. They would have his staff on site in their refuse areas, removing recyclable matter (such as tins, plastic and cardboard) from the waste stream and then he would sell those recyclables entirely for his own profit, with no rebate to the shopping centre. John thought he had hit a gold mine.He began to roll out this service to many new customers and was soon removing recyclables from a variety of sites. His customers were thrilled to be supporting an environmentally sensitive business and being able to “green” their waste stream. This removal of recyclables had the apparent effect of reducing the waste that needed to be removed and thereby correspondingly reduced the monthly waste removal charges.Fourteen months later, he closed his doors. Bankrupt.John had stopped focusing on his core business of waste management and expanded his services beyond what he knew to work. He had done no viability study on a substantial variation in the direction of his business.John’s small trucks were excellent for removing waste from tight refuse areas in office blocks, residential complexes and other difficult-to-access areas. Those same small trucks were terribly inefficient at transporting recyclables for resale, which is largely a volume-driven enterprise. His trucks now spent all day transporting recyclables to recover a small rebate on a small load and their availability to remove waste decreased. The business never recovered because his customers were loath to return to the more expensive service with which he had initially secured their business, namely the removal of all of their waste for a fee. They expected to be billed only for the removal of non-recyclable waste.The second business
“Derek” worked for two years for John’s business and when it was shut down, he essentially agreed with John that he would obtain a vehicle, take over John’s customers and make a go of running his own waste management business. To a large degree, he founded his business (rather curiously) on essentially the failed business of John. Years later, Derek’s business still exists.John’s customers’ refuse areas had deteriorated into complete disarray with the demise of his business. Derek was able to take them over with relative ease, as the customers’ need was desperate. However, in order to appease them for the disaster left behind by John, and the fact that they were now accustomed to smaller monthly waste removal charges, he was able to convince them to return to their original service only by discounting his price. This price was somewhere between their original fee and the reduced fee after John reduced their billing only for the removal of non-recyclable waste.From the outset, Derek intended to make up this shortfall in the discounted price by continuing to remove and sell the recyclables to third parties who would collect those recyclables from each site.So Derek removes their waste at a discounted price, subsidised by his sale of the extracted recyclables.His business model is different to John’s but importantly, he has been consistent in continuing to apply what works for him. This is not to suggest that any business should be stubborn and rigidly set against exploring opportunities. I merely suggest that many pitfalls and distractions from the core foundation of a business are disguised as “opportunities”. Remember all the long-lost relatives that suddenly materialise when a wealthy person passes away? And all the “opportunities” that pop up as your business becomes successful? Do what you do and do not lose focus on your core business.The third business
“Bob” was off to a humble and low-key start. He was realistic about where his personal abilities and strengths lay and decided from the outset to align his business with a small start-up waste removal business. The businesses effectively merged and became one entity, almost from the outset, and it was agreed that he would obtain the service contracts and the business partner would manage the physical removal service and operations. Bob was excellent at sales, while the allied business owner excelled at operations management.Bob held a steadfast and single-minded view on his business – he was in the business of removing other people’s rubbish.As his success grew, he was presented with numerous opportunities, including one to remove and dispose of hospitals’ medical waste. The contract was worth an enormous amount of money but at the time, he turned it down, categorically maintaining his approach: that he knew nothing about, and was not engaged in, the highly specialised business of medical waste. Slowly, but surely, his business grew and eight years on, it was thriving and Bob insists “I am just a simple dustbin man.”The fourth business
The last short case study is the famous exception that proves the rule.”Roger” worked for over thirteen years for the second largest waste management company in the country. His experience ranged from sales, to marketing and operations until, for the last five years at that employer, he was employed as the general manager.His attempt to start-up his own business was tainted by dubious and unethical approaches to many of his former employer’s customers. On the back of that customer base, he initially made great strides forward before, in a rather karmic puddle of self-pity, his business fell flat.A few years later, he made another effort at the same business, offering all sorts of additional services, specialised waste container bins and presumably the same nonchalant approach to business ethics. Despite a specific business plan, vast experience, resources and a specific focus on his core service offering, the business failed again. Roger was not distracted by “opportunities” and retained his focus on the core business, but he started from a compromised position – one in which his questionable business practices tainted his efforts like fruit rotting from its core.What is your core business?Remember, you started your business with a specific vision/product/service in mind. Until that is stable and old enough to go to the loo by itself, do not be distracted by possibilities and seeming opportunities. Do what you do and focus on your core business!

Decrease Your Costs of Hiring New Employees in the Construction Industry

Two primary costs of hiring new employees in the construction industry are advertising and training.Time and resources in advertising. It isn’t just the cost of placing an ad. It is the time it takes to weed through hundreds of applications to find a handful of truly qualified applicants. Then, the time it takes to arrange interviews and testing, check references, and make an offer. All of this takes time. Time is money.Time and resources in training and retaining. Once new employees are hired, construction managers must turn their attention to retention. A recent practice since the construction industry started to struggle for skilled labor been poaching. Project managers who are desperate to fill positions in a short time frame travel to competitor sites and offer slightly more money to lure away competitors’ workers. It is not an ethical approach to hiring, but it has eased the burden or advertising for some employers. This means you’ve wasted time hiring and training an employee who may not be with you for long.The U.S. recession and the resulting housing market crisis of 2008 shifted the dynamic of the construction industry. What had been a robust market filled with many skilled laborers turned to deserted projects. Skilled workers waited for a quick, strong comeback that did not seem to come. Weary of waiting for a turnaround and faced increasing needs for survival income, many of them abandoned the industry for other pursuits. In the years from 2007 to 2011, the industry lost nearly 2.2 million workers.According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 1.2 million jobs have been made available because of the housing market exodus. This high demand, low supply of skilled labor has made it hard for employers to control construction labor costs.Construction employers and industrial project managers who want to lure workers back to building sites have had to find creative ways to reach skilled workers. Many have relied on traditional job advertisements in local newspapers and online job banks. But these tactics end up being a time and resource drain on employers with a steady influx of unqualified applicants. This dwindling of precious time is the reason you need to work with a labor staffing agency to help you manage construction labor cost. How much is your time worth?With construction staffing agencies many hiring expenses are contained. Companies who rely on these specialized services receive the benefit of an integrated hiring process that delivers skilled, experience workers. Much of the guesswork that appears during hiring is removed.Why should you work with an agency?They can remove your hiring costs and hassles
They can minimize your Workers’ Comp exposure
They can control your health care and benefits costs
They can reduce your unemployment insurance costs
They can maximize workforce productivity
They can manage the financial impact of new labor legislationIt takes to run a successful business in today’s world. Working with an experienced staffing agency can move you down the path toward a successful business without all the administrative concerns. Look for an agency that will provide: A proven source for all your employee administrative needs
HR, Payroll, Risk Management and Payroll issues
Access to top-tier benefits and a 401k with company match
Offer health, dental, even vision
Staff your jobs with qualified, quality peopleHiring talented, temporary skilled workers is a big investment for contractors. Keeping these quick tips in mind will help you choose the best staffing agency giving you more time to reach your construction goals.