Business Resilience 3

Business Resilience 3

From time to time we are reminded we need to ensure our Businesses are building resilience to any outside or inside forces that could occur from time to time.  Basically, how do we keep our business running during an incident/ disaster, or how do we get our business back up running after a disaster. It also might be the training of our staff to ensure they are resilient in the workplace and in their tasks/ job roles.

Being resilient is no more important than it is now, with the COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, however, this one will definitely be once the disaster – Health Emergency is over, as we know it has been a difficult couple of months since the first case of COVID-19 landed in Australia, and as the infections rise, it is only going to get a little harder for another couple of months as yet, they are expecting peak period to be the end of April, early May, and could possibly go on for another 5-6 months, therefore finishing around Sept 2020.

Think a lot of businesses with their Business Continuity Plans, had thought about a range of incidents which could happen within their business, and many probably thought that there was nothing which could wipe out there the whole workforce, even often the flu only gets a certain smallish % of infections throughout the workplace, where through a pandemic, like the COVID -19 whole industries have been wiped out, or basically cancelled by the Government closing down industries, to try and limit the spread of the infections and slow them down, so the Hospitals have more time to plan and prepare to respond.

 

What I have learned with the COVID-19 and communicating with Business owners about their Business Continuity Plans,

  • Businesses thought a Medical condition e.g. Flu would wipe out less than 50% of their staff allowing the business to continue.
  • Sole traders thought if I get the flu I will take 2-3 weeks off work but then I shall be able to continue to run my business.
  • Businesses not having a Business Continuity Plan in place
  • Businesses have not tested their Business continuity Plans to know if they work or not
  • Businesses have never thought about industries being stopped by the Government,
  • Businesses have not thought about what else can they do, should something happen to their industry
  • Coaches, Mentors have niched themselves to industries, and suddenly an industry is closed down, they don’t have the clients to work with as easily.
  • An industry can be completely shut down by the Government and overnight.
  • Unfortunately, people don’t want to follow the Governments recommendations and therefore the Government is forced into legislating the requirements to ensure they happen
  • Business owners need support to help them implement their plans or to help clarify the implementation of the plans

In general terms, the BCP is important at any stage, and I believe with having something like the COVID-19 pandemic is 2020, it will only help to improve Business Continuity Plans/ Crisis Plans in the future which might be a good thing.

As a country we rely on China to supply a lot of things, which also helps us to pay minimal for products, however many did not have plans in place for another supplier once china was closed down due to the Pandemic of this nature, therefore many companies have not been able to get supplies in to ensure they can continue to offer the full range of products in which they normally do. None of us would have planned for Freezers to sell out in the majority of retail outlets, not many of us would have thought about Hand Sanitisers running out of supplies in a short period.

What the Services Australia- Centrelink debacle showed us, was to ensure the systems- websites are ready to receive all the extra usage which it may get when something like this happens, although for business owners it might be a Promotion you are running to get extra clients and extra people to your website if your website can’t handle the extra visitors and keep crashing it won’t help your business.

 

In summary,

I think it demonstrates our BCP’s need to be better planned, and all business owners need to spend the few hours one day to think about the Hazards, risks, etc to their business and take time to understand their risks, and what can happen to their business and how they can minimize or eliminate these risks from affecting their business.
Business owners need to test their BCP’s to ensure they can work and will work during implementation or make any slight tweaks they need to in order to improve them, similar to testing your fire alarms each year, although this is mandated where a BCP is not, but should make no difference.

Business owners need to have a better understanding of workplace legislation, or at least Identified a consulted they can call on at short notice to help them understand their requirements during a disaster of this nature, as it helps you to respond and one less thing you need to consider at the time.

People in general but also Business owners need to take directives better from the Government before they are legislation, and for this sort of thing the café’s/ Bars, etc which were allowed to remain open, but did not restrict the social distance between patrons which was recommended by Government, etc, for example, the big tables and seats which normally have 8 on a table, still allowed 8 on the table and during the restrictions should have been reduced to 4. I understand social distancing was a new term to many people, and it can be difficult for many people to judge distance by the naked eye and tape measures do need to be used, however, whilst limiting the people in your venues would have reduced your income for a short period, you are now having no income because a lot of people, including business owners/ Management thought the recommendation did not need to be followed if people did not want to, and it has now affected a lot of businesses.

Whilst I am concerned for many business owners, including myself, I am hoping the economy will start to improve soon and businesses will be given the all-clear to return back to operations, in the near future, however, in the meantime may Businesses owner and former employees who might get jobs back just need to ride out the next 2-3 months before we see any change in the situation.

If you are one of the lucky businesses still operating at present, now is the time to quickly assess what else can do to help your business, service or product,  ensure you can work from home, this includes yourself and your staff, do they have everything they need to work from home in a safe manner.

Good luck, stay well, stay positive, and reach out to someone if you need assistance or to talk, whether you are currently able to run your business or not, there are plenty of people out there ready to assist you in some way.

 

Refer or Not

Whilst meeting with a couple of clients this morning in a group Mentoring session, I was asked about whether someone should keep referring work to another Business, despite that business never referring work back to their referrer.

This one is a difficult one for me to answer, as I know within most Business groups I refer or tag names in the relevant industry so people know where to go for help. However for me, it is not as much about getting work back as such, however, it is more about helping the Business owner asking the question and ensuring they get the help they need.

So before referring any work to anyone, I believe you need to work out what is the purpose of you referring work to someone, is it only to get referrals back, or is to help someone out of your generosity as such.

I know at times, I have been tempted to stop tagging people, as they don’t tag me, or refer to work back to me, but then I stop and think who does this really affect? As i discussed with my mentees for me, it is about helping others, whether there is always a financial return or not, and the only times I have stopped referring work to someone is in the following circumstances,

  1. I have heard from people, that they are not professional, good at what they offer to do, therefore not being able to do what is required
  2. When they have Bled me for free information, and then have mentioned on facebook or in other forms of Social media, that they have bought the services from someone else, without giving me the ability to quote or anything.

 

There could be a reason why someone does not refer work to you, which could include,

  • They don’t have confidence in what you do
  • You have not convinced them about what you do
  • They may have a paying client which offers the service in which you do
  • They don’t meet with clients who can use the level of services that you offer.
  • Do they have all your contact details?

 

I believe if you are concerned about why this is occurring, is maybe try and meet with the people who you believe should be referring to you, and ask them why do you not refer anyone to me, and this might give you some insight on what you need to do to rectify the issue. The important aspect is not to take it personally, that they are not referring work to you, and it might be something simple.

Hopefully, this blog gives you something to consider, especially if you one of those people who are referring a lot of work to others, but not getting a lot in return from any of those people you are referring others to.

Good luck.

Operating on Price Alone

Welcome to this week’s blog.

Today, I wanted to look at the old comment out there, I have competitors who offer the same service or product at a cheaper rate than me, they always undercut the competition which makes it difficult for others to survive.

I just wanted to reassure everyone, this is normal in a lot of Businesses, especially in the service industry although can happen in retail and products.

However in keeping in mind the ones who do this, and always undercut their competition, often over time they won’t survive, or they rack up a large debt etc, but often whichever it is they will eventually go out of Business.

If you are one of the many businesses who are doing on business based on price alone and thinking you need to compete with the competition, in order to get the client, then you 2 won’t be doing well in a year or two.

Next month is the time to stop operating this way and set your prices to the Value in which you place on your knowledge and expertise in the industry in which you have chosen to operate in. Remember you have probably taken years to learn your craft either through on the job or training and qualifications neither which are cheap.

As a note your service/ Product is worth as much as anyone is willing to pay for it, and what value they see in what you are offering.

Now you have taken the time to set your new prices whether you have done this on your own, discussed it with your Accountant, mentor, coach, it is now time to start marketing this to your potential clients.

Think about what do you do which is different from your competitors, why should clients choose you rather than others in the industry.  Do you need to add anything else to what you do to add the value, e.g. a industry-based report, a better reporting template, etc.

So what are you waiting for, now is the time to review your prices, look at your packages, hourly rate whichever you use, work out what you need to do different is anything.  Update your website, your advertising material etc, and get out there and promote your business with the new motivation and direction you have.

Check your terms and conditions and change them if you need, minimal due dates on invoices, refund policy in line with consumer law, include an annual price rise at the start of the Financial year, then it is an automatic increase.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and good luck, happy business.

 

 

 

Business Health Check

I should thank William Siebler for the thought of this blogs topic, as it was after his post on facebook that got me thinking.

One of the things William mentioned was service providers being like Doctors, in people go to them for assistance with their medical problems, whereas here for Businesses it is like going for a medical issue which needs assistance. We have a problem with our Business we need to find help for it, and therefore service providers need to resolve a problem for the business owner.

However, although I know males are probably worse than females for seeking the doctor’s help, however we must learn all genders need help from time to time, and the earlier we get that help the better it will be.

For me personally, as someone who has had a couple of skin cancers in the past, I need to attend my doctor’s clinic for a skin check at least once a year, however, whilst this is being done we also do all the blood tests and other health checks as well.  Basically every January or February I make my appointment with my GP for these health checks to occur, as we believe in finding medical issues early they are easier to treat and can have the least effect on my body.

My recommendation to Business owners, is they treat their Business more like their health or the health of their family, something which needs to occur annually.

Although I am a mentor, I am not saying that everyone needs an on occurring service of a mentor every month, or coach, advisor, analyst, SEO consultant, or any other service provider, although it does help keep me in business when people do. However, I recommend that Business owners make time every year, to meet with a mentor, coach, advisor, analyst, or other service providers at least once during the year for a health check of your business.  During this time, you can discuss what has worked, what has not worked and where you can go in the future 12 months. They can assist you in being your sounding board each year and guiding you to the future, with something which you may have missed.

Any help we can get with our Businesses can only improve the growth and the operations of the business, and the experience of others who we may speak to from time to time can give us guidance on how Business, it might be more of what not to do rather than what to do, which saves you from making those mistakes.

The beauty about a 2-3 hour appointment each year, is you have time to think about the non urgent issues, what you want to do, and also budget for the consultation, and remember you can obtain quotes for the service prior to doing your planning and budgets so you know what costs you need to include in the budget and for when. It is something I offer my clients, and I have some who do take advantage of it, as they can’t all afford the ongoing fee every month.

Happy for members to comment on their thoughts of having a health check for their business.

Tender Writing Submissions

From time to time I see posts or questions about writing tender submissions, and as we know depending on your industry, but submitting for tenders can be a vital component of operating a business as if we are successful in tenders it helps improve our cashflow.

One thing to remember when applying for tenders, some of the companies who use this format may pay 30-45 days from the end of the month or the invoice date, therefore you need to be sure that your cash flow can sustain this sort of payment process.

One thing I advise Business owners to do, is register on their local Tender site, and most states will have one, from this site you can download the documents from a couple of tenders -probably a good idea to look at your industry, but does not matter and check out what companies are looking for, as far as documents which need to be uploaded and supplied during the tender application process.

It will probably take 3-6 months, depending on where your business is at, for you to either write or at least find the documents and prepare everything you need to apply for the tender.

The sort of information they may ask for,

  • Company details- including ACN/ABN, directors information etc.
  • Insurance details- so you might want to obtain a certificate of currency or similar from your Insurance company/ Broker
  • OH&S Policy/ Mission Statement
  • If you are registered with any Professional Bodies,
  • To ensure you have licenses and registrations you need to complete the work, some may want copies of employees licenses
  • Standard Operating Procedures or Policies in relation to something
  • Quality Assurance certificates or policy statements- e.g. how are you going to ensure your work is of a high quality
  • Price of the tender- please read the document to ensure whether it is said GST inclusive or Exclusive if you get this wrong it could be costly to yourself
  • Basically, they want to know how are you going to do the work, can you do the work, and how much will it cost them
  • Some might want to know if you plan to use contractors to help you complete the job, and they might want to know names of contractors, and how do you ensure they provide quality work
  • A copy of Your Business Continuity Plan, or what plans will you implement should something go wrong.

Above is just a shortlist of what might be required, as I said it all depends on the industry as to what they need and request during a tender process.

However, this now gives you something to consider, and to start preparing the required documents or writing the policy and procedures, etc in which you might need in order to prepare for writing a tender submission.

The actual writing of the tender submission really requires you to answer the questions and to supply the relevant requested information at the right time. remember a tender if often just a larger quote.

Good luck with your tender preparations and submitting, we are all against a range of competition and we need to ensure the potential clients want to use our company and not someone else.

Exercise For Business

Hi followers,

Now this blog is not about what you think it might mean, although getting sufficient physical exercise can be beneficial for the Business owner and to help improve the business, it is not something I am going to push to business owners, I will leave it up to them to decide whether exercise can assist them or not.

When I talk about exercise, I am talking when it comes to time to evaluate your Business or test aspects of your business to see how they are working or not working, therefore being sufficient or not sufficient for your Business operations.

Exercise is often a term used in the Emergency Management arena, where it talks about an exercise being about testing something, often a particular service whether CFA, SES, Police or Ambulance response to a particular scenario, which can help them prepare to how they might respond to something if it ever occurs, e.g. building collapse, Wildfire, Stand collapse as MCG etc, however often in this case an exercise means it is a test of something or not currently occurring in real life.

In Business it is important we test everything that we do to ensure it is operating the best it can for our current and potential clients. We test our contact form on our websites, we constantly check our emails from our website, we might check our booking system, etc.

However, the important aspect of any test or exercise is to ensure we know the following

  • Why are we doing it
  • What do we want to achieve
  • Who do we need to participate

Only once we know the purpose of the exercise/ testing, we can then work out the best way of doing this, and to ensure it works to the best possible outcome, or do we need to adjust it to ensure it does, although sometimes we find that more training might be required to ensure it becomes familiar. Some things which we might test

  • Fire Alarms
  • Security Alarms
  • Business Continuity Plans
  • Evacuation Plans
  • Website contact forms
  • Website booking forms/ Systems
  • IT Systems
  • Break-in at the office/ shop
  • On call Staff should you offer a 24 hr response
  • How to cope with minimal staff due to sickness
  • Bomb Threat/ Suspicious package left behind
  • Active shooter on premises- which could become more common in the future
  • No Public Transport- how would staff get to work without trains or buses
  • Anything in relation to your own Business.

As you can see there are a few things in which can be tested, although I am sure in your own individual Business industry and or circumstances you could think of other aspects which could be tested.

Don’t only think of testing systems etc in relation to your own operations, think about some of your suppliers, etc, and think can I involve them in my exercise, how would this work, as you might also be helping them to plan for the “whatever’s”  which could occur in their Business.

Any way in which you can assess the risk to the Operations of your Business and therefore help you understand how to minimize or even eliminate something occurring can only improve your business, and minimize the interruption or disruption to your Business.

Depending on your Business, however, the majority of things should be tested every 12 months, although the more it can be tested the better it can be for your business and to improve your Business and prepare it for the future to become more resilient. The Important thing when testing items, is to try not to disrupt your business too much whilst testing it, that it ruins your business, however, you need to try and ensure it is as authentic as possible to ensure it helps you to learn from it.

Now I have you thinking about your Business Operations and what you need to test to ensure it works and to help train your staff in knowing how to respond to an incident, Good luck with your planning, and remember there are people out there to assist you in this sort of area of your Business.

Marketing Tips 3

Hi Everyone.
I often see requests for how to Market a service or a product on Social Media or what platforms are best to advertise a business on.

Firstly I will say, I offer a Mentoring Service and not a full Marketing service, and I will probably think some of the Marketers, and Website developers and other Mentors or coaches may have a different view to mine on Marketing and you as the Business owner need to find something that works for you and your Business.

One question which often comes up – do I need a website? and firstly most of the people would say yes you need a website to promote your business, however, we have to remember that it was Website Designers/ Developers who started pushing the concept of every Business needing a website, which is similar to Mentors and Coaches often saying everyone needs a mentor or coach, guess what I am saying here is, ensure you know where the sources of information are coming from, to ensure they are in the best interest of your Business, does not really matter on what the advice is, as a lot of people will give you advice on something, which can encourage you to spend money with them or at least their industry.

Now back to the question of the website, whilst it is good to have a website, you need to go back to an earlier Blog I did on what is the Purpose of the website, why do you want a website, is it so people know how to contact you, is it to sell your service/product, is it to share information, is it to get people to sign up to your newsletters which are your sales tool etc, if you need the purpose it can help you design the website, rather than just having a website built. However, a good reason to have a website is to ensure your potential customers/ clients can find you and know you exist, and offer the services or products you offer as if they don’t know about you they can’t use your services.

And again it does not matter what platform you use for marketing, whether it is leaflets, social media, websites, blogs, etc, you need to research what works for your industry or what works specifically for you, where do your potential clients hang out- e.g. do they look for services on social media, do they look for your products via google search etc, once you know where they look, then you know that is the area to target and spend your time on.

If you are a Business- whether services or products and you offer a good service/product you may find you don’t need any form of social media or websites etc as your clients or previous clients are happy to recommend your business to others, and this is the way your potential clients are finding you is through referrals- although at times the potential clients might only be told your name and not how to contact you, and you might need a listing somewhere with your contact details.

In summary Marketing or promoting your business is all about the fact people can find you, and find out more about yourself, your Business, and how you can help them achieve their goals or complete the projects they were working on- they really need to know will using your services or products help them complete or achieve whatever they need to achieve.
In short, whatever you do, People need to be able to find you, if people can’t find out about you, can’t contact you, can’t understand what you offer, then good chance your Business won’t grow, and that is my real tip, ensure potential clients/customers can find you..

Business Resilience.

Recently in a Facebook group, I asked the question in a poll format about whether a Business owner thought their Business was, in fact, Resilient, and to what level, including good, average, poor etc, part of the question was to learn about what Business owners thought was Business resilience and to get Business owners to start thinking of their Business in this way.  I was happy for people to discuss what they thought about the word resilience etc, as I know it is a phrase which many Business owners interpret differently, and it is like doing a risk assessment of your business, we may not always think of all the Risks within the Business and therefore speaking with others can help Business owners learn and consider more risks which might be applicable to their particular Business/ Industry.  Think this was demonstrated when the question was asked whether the Business was recession proof,  often as a Business owner we do wonder what effect a recession will have on our Business especially the cash flow aspect and we know without good cash flow we may not have a business.

From the poll, I was very impressed that the majority who responded to the poll thought their Business was resilient, which was a good result, although I do admit there were limited responses to the poll, considering the size of the group.

When I think of Business Resilience I think of it is the ability for any organization or business to quickly adapt to any disruptions within the workplace whilst maintaining continuous Business operations and safeguarding people, assets and the overall brand equity.

In order to help a Business become resilient, we need to assess and consider all the risks to the Business, and then document a Business Continuity Plan or something similar, so anyone within the Business, no matter the time of the day can respond and know what needs to be done as soon as something occurs. if you have not thought of a particular risk, then you would not have planned response to that particular risk/ incident/issue for when it shall occur, which is why either using an external consultant, or other business owners, or a small advisory Board can assist you in considering all risks which might occur within your industry.

Apart from the above, recession other things we can consider here may include floods, Fires, Earthquakes, change in street direction/ operations, staff becoming sick e.g. flu hitting the workplace, computer, and IT/communications issues, equipment failing or being stolen, break in’s into the workplace- damage or items stolen, loss of clients, especially our major clients, vehicles,  these are just some of the things which we can consider as risks which may or may not occur and we need to be able to plan to respond to these risks occurring, and I am sure for your own industry you can think of other risks which may be relevant for your particular industry.

Why is becoming Resilient becomes important, it enables business owners to develop mechanisms for protection against experiences which could be overwhelming. It also helps us maintain a balance in our lives during any stressful periods of time which can help with our mental health requirements. Anything which reduces the stress levels of a Business owner can only be a good thing.

One thing to remember when we write the Business Continuity Plan, (BCP) although you may know it as a Disaster Recovery Plan ( DRP) or by other names, it is important that the information in the plan is tested on a regular basis, initially in the first year, it should be tested at least twice, say every 6 months, as if we test it, then know whether it will be sufficient should something happen e.g. will it work, can everyone reading it understand it and the instructions and therefore can implement it successfully and efficiently, if it can not be implemented by everyone, it might be time to go back to the drawing board.

One example I like to give, a company in South Australia, went to the trouble in installing a generator, so if the power went out, the generator would kick in and the place would still have power, the Property Officer/Manager was testing the generator on a regular basis, to ensure it was working, and had fuel etc in the generator ready to go. Unfortunately, the testing of the Generator was not documented anywhere in the procedure Manual and no one knew it was happening. Unfortunately, the property officer left the organization for health reasons, and therefore the Generator was no longer being regularly tested.  One night about 230am, the after-hours received notification of a security alarm activation, and when they checked the IT feed, they found all the doors in the Building had opened, it appeared they had a power failure. The incident was responded to as expected.  The following morning the question was asked about why did the Generator not kick in as it was meant to, in which they detected a fault within the Generator and maintenance attended to inspect. Apparently yes there was an issue with the Generator and through discussions with the Maintenance it was worked out had the Generator been regular tested the fault would have been detected, and the fault could have been rectified and then not have this issue. Which is why it is important to test your plans etc and ensure it is going to be effective for your Business requirements.

For anyone who chose not to answer the poll, as they were not sure what to answer, or they answered average, now is the time to consider your risks, plan to respond to any risk and how you are going to respond to any issues, and document it all in a way in which everyone will understand it and be able to pick up the document and implement it. And please remember to test your plans to ensure they work.

As usual, if you have any questions please speak with your mentor, advisor, consultant about improving your resilience, or if you don’t have someone to ask, please feel free to message me on facebook and I will ensure you get the help you need.

 

 

 

Knowing Your Financials.

Knowing your financials can mean different things to different people.

However, the more you know and understand your finances within your business, it can help you understand your financial position within your business better.

At times we think understanding your financials, refer to knowing how much you pay for your phone account each month, or your insurance for the year, or your car expenses per month, or your utilities accounts each quarter, or how much it costs to produce your products etc, to ensure you know whether your sales price is sufficient to making a reasonable profit for each of your products. After all, if you are not making a sufficient profit on the sale of a product or service, then you won’t have a good cash flow to invest back into the business.

However, about 18 years ago I owned a Hair Salon, I wanted to know and learn my financials better, to ensure how I could improve the efficiency of the Business, and the way I went about this is breaking the figures down to an hourly figure. Figures similar to the following, although these were not the actual figures,

  • Bank Charges     .45
  • Marketing         1.15
  • Internet                .68
  • Phone                 1.44
  • Legal/Account   .35
  • Rent                    3.20
  • Insurance             .25

Income per hour    $30.35

Expenses  P/H          $15.62

The above, are all examples figures per hour, however, it was good for me to know, how many clients we had to see per hour which then also helped me understand and improve my Marketing, to ensure we had extra clients attending the Salon.

I will admit it was a time-consuming project, as I had to break down all the Figures from Annual to Monthly/ Weekly and then an hourly figure.

I believe it actually helped improve my Business, that a few years later working for a Security company, I performed the same project for a Security company, which again was also time-consuming however it was good to see the profit margin’s for each Patrol round was making, or which Patrol round was not making sufficient profit, which then allowed the company to look at ways of improving the poorer performing Patrols/ Departments and work out how to make them more efficient, as we all know gaining new clients when we want to is not always easy, it sometimes takes time.

Since starting the Mentor/Advice Business, I will say I have performed this project for other Business owners, and I will say for the majority of clients it has been a worthwhile project to be completed and has been a benefit for their Business, I have had a couple who believe it did not help their Business or knowledge of their Business, although this may also be because of their knowledge of their financials, and where they were in their Business cycle.

My recommendation is, if you don’t understand your financial position and want to learn more about it, speak with your Bookkeeper, Accountant, or a Mentor who may be able to assist you in this area, I am happy to answer any questions you may have or discuss this with you further, feel free to message me via Facebook.
As I sit here and think well it is only February, it is only about 4.5 months and the new Financial year will be here, and it is about this time of year, some companies start preparing their Budgets and plans for the next Financial year, especially if they need to be approved by other parties, e.g. CEO. Board etc.

Have a good week.