As a manager, it’s important to do your best to keep your workplace from becoming an episode of the Real Housewives. Here are some tips for managing conflict.
We all know that cash flow is king. But just how much sway does it have? Well, you might want to ask the nine out of 10 small businesses that have failed because of cash flow problems. That’s, right, according to D&B, 90% of small businesses close their doors because of poor cash flow management.
Everyone makes a plan at some point in their life. Whether it’s for their wedding, family, business – or even just the weekend. Spontaneity is fun when it comes to road trips and skinny dips, but successful businesses need to think about the future and how to work smarter, not harder.
A recent study focused on identifying the current issues and trends facing Australian SMEs has found that 38% of small businesses pick Marketing & Advertising as the primary strategy for growth.
With more than a third of small business competing in the open market it will mean that it’s going to be harder and harder for your prospective customers to differentiate your business to your competitors. This often means that with a limited budget, as an owner of a business you would rather hire new sales or marketing personnel than HR. Or invest time in prospecting new business rather than increasing employee engagement and other people management strategies.
If there’s one phrase found on the lips of finance-conscious small business owners more often than any other, it’s surely this old chestnut: “Cash flow is king”.
But how often does the average small business owner actually walk the talk of ‘cash is king’? Could it be that the simple distinction between ‘cash’ and ‘profit’ is actually unclear for many SMBs? And just what is the difference?
With smartphones at our fingertips, customers are searching online more than anywhere else to research a product. As a small business owner, it’s critical that you have a website ready for customers who are looking you up. Understanding why it is important and figuring out where to start can be intimidating. Here’s what you need to know.
Small businesses will often say that their number one goal is business growth. But where does business growth come from? An easy answer to this can be “attracting new customers”. But attracting new customers can come at a very high price. Marketing has become increasingly difficult with online advertising and social media offering. Competition is fierce. Every other small business is online competing for potential customers. On the other hand, you could rely on word-of-mouth, but that is going to be a very slow process.
Mention the word ‘millennial’ and the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of employers is ‘risky’. Today’s university graduates are looking to fast-track their career, and are not afraid of jumping from employer to employer to achieve advancement.
Not too long ago, customers walked into retail stores without knowing much about their products. They’d browse the merchandise to discover items they liked, relying on store associates for more details and information.
Are your staff turning up late, grouchy and stressed? Do they have a distant look in their eyes (like they’d rather be anywhere else)? Is your turnover rate on the rise?
Have you ever wondered what makes successful business owners tick? Do you share their good habits? We surveyed 2,000 business owners to help you find out.
Job sheets, whiteboards, clipboards, filing cabinets … these are the communication and information storage tools of old-fashioned, inefficient small businesses. For owners and managers of trades and services companies who are only familiar with these traditional ways of working, and systems that may have been used for decades, it can seem like a difficult task to move to modern, cloud-based job management software.
If you track income and expenses on a spreadsheet, you could be losing sight of how your business is performing and wasting a lot of time on data entry. There are low-cost alternatives that allow you to monitor business cashflow really simply.
If you’re a shop owner, new rules mean your council may let you open on Easter Sunday. However, you can’t make your employees work that day.
The types of failures that led to the Pike River mine tragedy can be found in many businesses and in many industries, says Rebecca Macfie, the Listener journalist who spent a year investigating the disaster and wrote the book Tragedy at Pike River: How and Why 29 Men Died.
Emergencies that force you to stop trading, like earthquakes, floods or fires, come with little or no warning. To give your business the best chance of survival, you need a contingency plan. Make sure it includes what happens after disaster strikes, when less — or no — money might be coming in.
Working with family members presents unique advantages, and unique challenges. If you've built up your own business, now might be the time to bring in other family members. Here’s how to avoid some of the pitfalls.
Who is responsible for fixing a product if it breaks after the manufacturer’s warranty or an extended warranty has expired? If you answered “the customer”, you should read on — the good reputation of your business may depend on it.
Several years ago, I had a customer who would glower at me as soon as I entered his department. He would say, ‘Fix it right this time, or get it out of here,’ no matter what the problem was.
If I was even one minute later than my ETA, he would be on the phone with my boss, complaining about the horrible service he was getting.
Because he would place a service call for the slightest imperfection or hiccup of the machine, I was going there almost every day.
Marketing. *Cringe*. You can think of a million things you’d rather be doing. The ice bucket challenge in the middle of winter. A half marathon with your ridiculously fit niece, a Toastmasters table topics competition in front of 100 unknown people.
‘I love deadlines…. especially the whooshing noise they make as they go by!’ That’s one of my favourite “Dilbert” quotes about business but it flies in the face of what motorsport stands for. Motorsport is a business of hitting deadlines because it doesn’t matter what reasons or excuses there are, the race will always start on time…. Whether you are there or not.
One of the tougher challenges for many trade businesses today in terms of finance is what’s commonly referred to as a cash gap.
A cash gap is a lag which occurs between income and cost of goods sold (COGS); that is, cash inflows and outflows. Businesses that suffer from a cash gap may be profitable on paper, but have cash flow problems because they have to pay their suppliers (COGS) much earlier than they receive money from their clients (income).
How did trust, that fundamental building block of human behaviour, become a cornerstone of modern business? Once something that required significant time and investment to build, maintain and yield results, trust is now being made and broken by strangers at speed – and that shift is being commoditised.
The concept behind Auckland-based social enterprise Eat My Lunch is a simple one. Buy a lunch and a kiwi-kid in need gets one for free. But there’s a level of complexity behind the scenes to ensure its sustainable future – from carefully planning menus to ensure zero-waste kitchen to thorough financial forecasting.
Good managers can make or break a business. They're essential to developing a positive and productive workforce, which, in turn, improves employee retention levels and ensures everybody in the business is working in line with the company’s strategy and objectives.
Freelancing and gigging are gaining popularity fast. Not only do you get the flexibility to work when and how you want, a lot of these jobs let you work from home. However, if you’ve never worked from home before this can be a challenge.
Treating your home like an office can take practice, especially if you don’t have enough space for a dedicated home office. If you’re freelancing and want to work more efficiently, here are some tips to help.
Much like finding an old $20 in those jeans that you’ve had away since last winter, or like realising you’ve ordered your pizza on cheap Tuesday when you go to foot the bill, figuring out that just a small change to the way you work can save you time and money is gold.
Sometimes, it’s the minor details that matter. It might seem like a small win at the time, but it’s one that can make a big difference to your business.
Hiring the right person for the job isn’t always a straightforward process. There are many variables to consider and whether you are a startup looking to hire your very first member of staff or already have a few team members on board and are looking to expand, the right person with the right skills can really enhance your work environment and have a positive impact on production. Hiring the wrong person does just the opposite and can not only be a costly exercise, but it can also be time-consuming and even have a negative impact on employee morale.
It’s been a huge year for M&A in the tech industry. For startups, there are many valuable insights that can be gleaned from this activity. By looking to organizations that have been around for a long time, entrepreneurs can learn what it takes to stay relevant in the coming years.
In the world of small business, the changing nature of competition requires us to constantly adjust and adapt, succeed and remain grounded. Everyday business decisions can be a continuous battle between the urge to stand still and consolidate, or push to achieve more.
So how do you strike the right balance? Multi-medal winning swimmer Michael Klim shares four top tips.
Starting your own business can feel like scaling Mt Kilimanjaro. You dig your feet in, climb, and pray for the best. It’s an exciting, chaotic, and hope-filled journey… But what happens when you reach the top of the mountain? Is there anywhere to go but downhill?
Unfortunately many small businesses grind to a halt - or even start to decline - after climbing their first mountain. This is known as the small business profit plateau. Your company is finally up and running smoothly, but its exponential growth suddenly stops. Your profits start to flatline. It feels like your team is working twice as hard just to maintain the same ROI.
Applying for funding from a bank can be daunting. It’s a lengthy process which involves jumping through hoop after hoop with no guarantee of success.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, follow our guide to ensure you go into the loan process with the correct information and watch your chances of approval soar.
Ah, meetings. With their almost universally hated status, running one can be tough going. You can almost *hear* the groans as you schedule one in the team’s shared calendar (and heaven forbid you try and make it a regular weekly occurrence). Given the enormous amount of pressure you – as the brave meeting organiser – face, it’s easy to default to a boring Powerpoint deck and read off the slides word-for-word. Unfortunately it’s also a great way to send everyone to sleep or to seek solace in tea breaks and lunch.
All too often a brand will launch a new product or service that flops because of a poorly thought through marketing campaign – so here are 8 tips for a successful marketing campaign.
Xero was born to achieve a simple but bold purpose: to build powerful, relevant and beautiful cloud accounting software that would change the lives of its global accounting partners and small businesses.
That’s why we consider it our greatest achievement to know that small business owners and key decision makers have named Xero the most-loved accounting software for a second year in a row, beating MYOB and Intuit Quickbooks, through independent research.
Being tired on the job is a health and safety issue many businesses have to grapple with, says a world authority on worker fatigue.
“Fatigue is just another hazard,” says Professor Drew Dawson, director of the Appleton Institute at the Central Queensland University.
Whether you’re an architect or a personal trainer, you’ll know the importance of using the right tools for the job. When it comes to running a thriving business, cloud-based apps are becoming an increasingly essential item in a small business’ toolkit.
Providing access to real-time information on the go, as well as reducing time spent on manual data-entry are just some of the benefits apps can provide busy small business owners.
How many times have you been on a road trip with children and heard that constant question that gratingly gets on your nerves: ‘Are we there yet?’
If you’re like me, you want to answer with, ‘Of course not or we’d be… there.’ Kids, knowing the potential fun to be had at the destination, get weary in the waiting of the journey itself.
Research suggests it costs a business between 4-10 times more to acquire a new client than it does to retain a current client. As a business owner, you will do well to look for ways to nurture these clients who’ve used you once into not just returning, but spreading the word about your company.
Choosing a bank is one of the most important decisions when starting a small business.
It’s as important as choosing where you’ll set up a brick-and-mortar store, developing a business strategy or deciding who you’ll partner with.
Choosing a bank should be the start of a long and fruitful business relationship.
Corporate espionage… A sinister plot to a movie or a real threat to your small business? You’d be surprised by what you don’t know about your company’s cyber security.
This week on Xero Gravity we are joined by our very own Felix Shi. Felix is the product security specialist at Xero and has seen it all when it comes to cyber breaches. On this week’s episode, we explore the holes hiding in your business’ cyber security systems and offer some valuable steps you can take to protect yourself.
You’ve got a beautiful business blog, full of white space and full bleed imagery. It’s responsive, a pleasure to scroll through and sure looks a whole lot snazzier than what your competitors are pushing out on a regular basis. You know you’re getting traffic because comments are surfacing every now and again, “likes” are trickling from your social feeds – but all in all it’s not really converting to new business or opportunities.
What are you doing wrong?
As the company owner, you have that entrepreneurial streak, that will to succeed. You can see the big picture and have a clear view of where you want the company to be in 5 years time.
The big problem comes when you can’t seem to translate that enthusiasm and drive to your team. They’re qualified and hardworking, but they just don’t really seem that fussed what happens to the company. You want them to be resilient, driven and – above all else – as motivated to succeed as you are.
According to world-class athlete and Olympian Sally Gunnell, as well as adapting to change, sustaining excellence in a new business is one of the hardest parts of the journey. In both business and sport, people ask and expect you to consistently perform at a massively high level with challenging deadlines. Sally’s advice in this regard is to stay focused on your goals and remember that they can of course be tweaked when they’ve been achieved or part achieved.
While the similarities between olympians and entrepreneurs may be few and far between, they do share one unifying cause: both strive for gold. Seeing the dedication of the athletes at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio reminds us of the long and hard path they forged to get to the Olympic arena.
For former Olympic athlete Michelle Roark, the transition from freestyle skiing to business owner was a no-brainer. Roark started skin and haircare company, Phia Lab, and with this came the realization the skills she had developed as a professional athlete were more than transferrable. Her inspiration for the brand was even inspired during training.
When you own a business, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day: from ensuring jobs get done, to checking employees and customers are happy. That’s before we even factor in our families, let alone ourselves.
But when we don’t take care of ourselves too, it can take a toll on the quality we operate at, affecting business productivity and ultimately profitability.
Is your small business on social media yet? I’m sure you’ve heard of the great potential social media holds for marketing your company, so I won’t preach to the converted. Everyone knows about the 6 big players - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn - but trust me, not all of them are right for your small business.
Where there’s business there’s brands.
Those succinct simple representations of an organisation carry enormous power and the task of making a business or cause memorable and enduring. Around the globe maybe millions of minds are beavering away on developing brands to drive their marketing, and cement their future prosperity.
Multinationals’ payment terms unfair say critics, as suppliers’ settlement dates push out to 120 days
Some Kiwi milk producers have to wait almost four months for payment from dairy giant Fonterra, as the milk giant aligns with “international best practice” and pushes its terms of payment out to up to four months.
No one likes late payments from their customers. Late payments have a negative effect on cash flow. Chasing customers for payment takes valuable time. Prevention is better than cure when it comes to getting your invoices paid on time. Here are some tips to make your invoices highly likely to get paid quickly.
You put a lot of work into gaining your customers.
So once you have them, you don’t want them to simply buy from you once, and then leave you to go out acquiring new customers.
That’s exactly what might happen if your customer has a bad experience with your customer service.
A robust rostering system is essential in any hospitality or retail business. Ensuring you have the right number of staff rostered on will keep your customers happy, and your wage cost looking great.
On the contrary, building rosters inefficiently can be a real time-waster. So, how do you get maximum results from your roster?
If you are a small business in New Zealand there’s a good chance that you travel for business. In fact, it’s quite possible that you travel a lot (on average kiwi businesses book at least 30 trips per year). But how do you make sure that you’re getting real value for your travel spend and how do you make your travel budget go further?
As a small business owner, could getting too embroiled in the day-to-day work of your business harm its overall development?
Often, your time is spent working in the business and not on the business.
Yet, in order to grow from a small outfit to a successful, profitable company, and to make the transition from owner-worker to managing director or CEO, you need to invest time managing your business.
Below are a few tips to help you make the transition.
It’s Saturday night and dozens of people are starting to stream into your restaurant for a bite to eat. Your staff are ready and everyone’s looking sharp… except Dave, who was supposed to be there 15 minutes ago. Turns out he didn’t realise he was meant to be working and is away for an epic skiing weekend. Awesome for him – not so much for you.
The major issues facing service businesses with a predominantly mobile workforce are universal. They tend to be all about controlling costs and effectively managing job schedules and staff.
The major issues facing service businesses with a predominantly mobile workforce are universal. They tend to be all about controlling costs and effectively managing job schedules and staff.
A recent US survey of 100 small- and medium-sized business managers showed that the biggest challenges when managing a mobile service workforce were keeping operational costs in line (25.7%), scheduling and dispatching (20.8%), managing workflow and processes (17.8%) and hiring and retention (11.9%).
Many years ago, I was on lunch with two other techs when one asked, 'Have you seen Tom around lately?'
Tom was a bit of a 'lone wolf' so it wasn’t too strange that we hadn’t run into him, but our manager had also requested a few times that we take his service calls.
I decided to call Tom to find out why he had been MIA for the past few weeks.
Some customers are simply not worth having – they cost you more than the revenue they bring in. They consume a disproportionate share of time and money, and create stress by paying late. They disrespect your people, complain often, and expect the earth, yesterday, and all at a rock-bottom price.
Think about the stars of Hollywood’s red carpets and you probably have in mind a certain sort of person. Someone who embodies the glamour of the silver screen, effortlessly suave, confident and full of panache… Or maybe you just see someone who’s made it lucky and never done a proper day’s work in their life.
From freelancers to fencers, techies to electricians, if you issue invoices as part of your day-to-day business, you will have experienced the frustration of not having those invoices paid on time.
And the part that really blows? The cringing follow-up phone call where you try to coax payment out of the client while not damaging your relationship.
Since the recession in 2008, there have been many complaints that the banks aren’t lending to SMEs. As a result businesses are increasingly seeking out alternative finance routes to access funding.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
In one of Shakespeare's most famous lines, he reminds us that a name really is just... a name.
But is a name more when it comes to business?
Let’s for a moment look at some of the perks of a smart business name.
Winter bugs can hammer a small business’s productivity, so it pays to help your people stay healthy — and to understand sick leave rules.
Sick leave absences cost the country more than six million work days throughout 2014 — an average 4.7 days for each employee — at a cost of $1.4 billion, according to the annual Wellness in the Workplace survey.
There were few surprises for small businesses in the 2016 Budget, but there were still things to smile about. The biggest of these were aimed at boosting innovation and simplifying taxes. Here’s what you need to know:
Discrimination can happen in any area of the business, whether it be during the interviewing process or with current staff. This article aims to help employers and employees understand discrimination, how to identify it, and how to avoid it.
“The cheapest trainer in the world is too expensive if the client isn’t yet sold on your value” – Jon Goodman, Ignite the Fire.
A recent High Court case shows companies need to take extra care when claiming their products are New Zealand made, an intellectual property expert says.
I believe that a useful goal in marketing is to have people remember us positively. In other words we want them to be thinking and saying good things about our business as often as possible.
It's tax time again. Follow our top tax tips to make tax time a breeze.
Your business website costs may be claimed as a tax deduction...
We’ve recently added an ABN search feature to the new business.gov.au. This feature is similar to the ABN search feature you may have used on our site previously.
Earlier this week, Square and Startup Week 2016 presented Ladies Who Launch: a panel featuring some of Australia’s inspiring business owners – who just happen to be women.
Around 200 of us gathered at 524 Flinders Street to hear from four successful founders: Sarah Hamilton ofBellabox, Simone Clark of Butterbing Cookie Sandwiches, Sheryl Thai of Cupcake Central + the League of Extraordinary Women, and Jacqui Bull of Sidekicker.
The panel was hosted Josh McNicol, Head of Marketing and Communications for Square Australia.
Close to one million businesses in Australia are home-based – a significant portion of the nation’s business community.
Running a home-based business offers a number of advantages including flexibility, convenience, freedom and cost savings. And when it comes to tax time, operating a business at or from your home means you may be eligible for a number of tax deductions.
Whiteboards took up half of Wendy Fallow’s office. The operations manager of Clear Concepts, a customised glass design business, said her working life consisted of sticking cellotaped magnets on pieces of paper and talking on the phone to her seven mobile installers and sales reps.
Starting and sustaining a small business requires a lot of time and dedication. It also requires money. For many people, the one thing holding them back is the capital required to start a business and endure a lean period when it is getting up and running. People fall into debt or end up giving up on their dream and returning to full-time work for a steady income.
However, it is possible to prevent this heartache by hanging on to your full-time job while your business gets off the ground. It will mean long hours that don’t end once you get home from work and the sacrifice of every minute of free time, but it can be the difference between having the security to forge ahead with your dream, or having to abandon it when you can’t sustain it any longer.
The world of business has entered the Age of Data. (It’s like the Age of Aquarius, except instead of a catchy song we have a smartphone app). Now, business owners can record, track, and report on every facet of their company.
Great employees are made up of two foundational elements: enthusiasm and teachability.
The former denotes a passionate individual, while the latter is one who wants to develop and progress, who is hungry to learn, and who evidences the trait of humility.
If you can find an individual with these two traits as well as highly developed skills, then you’re on to a winner. And, even if the skill levels are less than required, their rise to skill mastery will be much faster if they already have these two foundational traits.
If you’re seeking to achieve business growth and expansion, it’s likely you’ll look to leverage the passion and talent of your employees. This might mean looking to your star performers, and it might mean looking for new hires.
The ultimate outcome here is to create autonomy within your workforce – you’re seeking to create a capability that works as if you were controlling it but with little need for your input. Think about that for a moment.
Every successful company, large or small, has a strong brand. In fact, the most important and valuable asset of some of the largest companies in the world – Apple, Google and Coca-Cola – is their brand.
But you don’t need a massive marketing budget to build a successful brand. It can be done with just a few simple changes to the way you think about and operate your business.
Word of mouth is one of the most powerful drivers of traffic and sales for retailers. According to McKinsey, it’s the primary factor behind 20 – 50% of all buying decisions and can influence purchases in ways that traditional advertising can’t.
Word of mouth is like the holy grail of marketing. And to help you tap into it, we’ve compiled some tips that you can put into action in your store.
Dolphins can stay continuously alert for over two weeks at a time. They only sleep with half their brains turned off at a time. This helps prevent them being eaten by sharks. Entrepreneurs will no doubt find this fact hauntingly familiar.
You may walk the walk, but can you talk the talk? Public speaking, pitching, talking, listening. Communication is integral to every aspect of business ownership and is a skill that directly impacts success.
“This is our breakout area. As you can see, we’ve got a pool table, an ironic Space Invaders machine, several broken Apple Macs hanging on the exposed brick wall, craft beer on tap, though I think the keg’s empty… Oh, and that khaki tent in the corner is for meetings. Of course, there’s nobody in here at the moment as we’re all so busy working.”
Do you spend a lot of time entering invoices? At Xero, they're committed to helping you shave hours off your invoicing workflow. Here’s a grab-bag of ways you can use Xero to speed up your invoicing. Some ways might not suit you, it’s a case of picking the ones that make sense for your business.
It’s an issue a lot of our customers face: being priced out of work by newer, shinier and yes, cheaper competition. If your business is losing clients this way, it’s time to assess what’s going on.
As any business grows, one of the biggest challenges is keeping costs to a minimum while bringing in more revenue and staying profitable. In others words: achieving business efficiency. So how can you go about doing this?
Helping New Zealand’s small businesses grow would benefit our economy — but many lack the time, confidence or both to set their sights higher.
Every year you pay levies to ACC to cover injuries suffered in and out of work — and vehicle regos help cover injuries suffered in road accidents.
The eighth budget from Minister of Finance, Bill English, was another “steady as she goes” affair, with many of the major policies being announced in the run-up to the actual Budget release.
A few years ago, who would have thought you could be watching your kids play sports while keeping on top of your business’s finances? All from a phone in the palm of your hand? Or that you could be travelling – across town or across the world – and be able to login to your accounting software and see where your business stands at that precise moment in time?
This week on Xero Gravity, Xero’s very own Rod Drury joins us to divulge what inspires him as a leader. Rod knows all about the importance of thinking globally. A Hi-Tech New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year winner and stand-up paddleboard enthusiast, he joins Elizabeth Ü in studio to discuss the parallels between Tesla’s plan to make the world better, and how small businesses can innovate and grow beyond their community.
More people than ever work remotely, at least part of the week. Here at WorkflowMax, many of our users – and even some of our team – work remotely all across the globe. I myself work from my off-grid eco-home in rural New Zealand. Usually, this is a wonderful arrangement enabling staff the freedom to live and work wherever they want, and to facilitate a great work/life balance. But it comes at a cost.
The first year in business is often both the toughest and most rewarding time. It’s when you start to figure out who you are as a business owner, and whether there really are people out there who will pay for your product or service.
Do you want to expand your business, be more competitive in your industry and achieve certain goals?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you need a business plan!
Whether you’ve just started out or you’ve been running your business for years, business planning can be the key to your success.
We’ve laid out three key reasons why you need to get started on your business plan today.
Sheryl Sandberg told startup founders to fail fast, she didn’t tell you to fail. It’s a subtle difference I’m calling out because there’s a trend starting to emerge, particularly in the Bay Area, that flat out failing is completely acceptable.
As a small business owner, you’re going to have good days and bad days. Some days will be worse than others.
Part of coping with the darker days that come with managing your own operation is being primed and ready to handle them when they arrive.
This involves building a network of advisors around you, hiring the right team and implementing the right technology so you have all the resources to push through and come out the other side with a healthy and stable business.
Every seven years, renowned graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister takes a year off. Unencumbered, unrestricted by the demands of his high-profile career, he has an opportunity to work for himself. The result is surprising, beautiful, provocative (check it out in his TED talk here) and comes from a place of authenticity and complete creative freedom.
“The people that embrace technology of course are the ones who are going ahead. The ones who see disruption not as disruption but as a challenge to develop new processes and new products.”
– Steve Vamos, non executive director, Telstra and Fletcher Building
It seems, nowadays, that everywhere you look you’ll see something related to ‘culture’ and the benefits of a good company culture — and of course the disadvantages of a bad one. So what is this ‘culture’ I speak of?
There are fundamental shifts taking place in HR. In these times of critical skills shortages, everyone has woken up to the fact that employees are the most important company asset. And using the right HR Tech will help you get the best out of them.