Inflation is much like rust. Left unchecked it can quietly eat away at your buying power and can turn a profitable business into one that struggles and a struggling business into non-existence.

For many of us, you pretty much had to be a Boomer living in an industrialized world to fully appreciate the impact that inflation had during the 80’s. During that period mortgage rates skyrocketed to over 21% and unemployment exceeded 12% in North America.

As bad as that was, there were countries that faced 100% annual inflation back then. To put things in perspective, that meant that the price of goods doubled in a year.

Inflation is like rust

The point of all this is not to provide an economics lesson, because I’d be the wrong person for that. No, this is intended is reinforce the need to be vigilant in managing your costs and pricing.

Regardless of your industry, you are probably facing cost increases in materials and wages. The latter because of the tight labour market, thanks in part to government social programs.

With all the things we must oversee as business owners, being a little more vigilant with all our purchases can become burdensome. However, with inflation starting to ramp up to serious levels, it’s more important than ever review your costs and adjust your pricing to protect your margins.

Too often I find small business owners struggle with increasing their prices because they are afraid of losing customers. Their internal dialogue usually centers around “I can’t charge them that much, that’s expensive, they’ll never pay that much!”

How is it that they won’t pay that much? Everybody is paying higher prices for just about everything they buy now. So, why should you be a martyr? Unfortunately, inflation is a perpetual motion machine that never stops.

The destructive power of inflation

What so many entrepreneurs fail to realize in a high inflation era, is that you need to keep your prices in step with the increases in your costs, otherwise it ends up costing you money and potentially your business.

Inflation can destroy your income statement in short order. When you look at the bottom line of many small businesses, there is not a lot left over after a year of hard work. The typical small business has a Net Income is way below 10% with many running in the 2-4% range. So, on a $1 million business that means your left with $20-40,000 or $10-20,000 on $500,000 and only $6-12,000 on a $300,000 business. Not much of reward for all the hard work.

Now layer on inflation at 4-7% that has recently been reported by various governments over the past few months and you will start to see the potential for margin destruction. But only if you don’t adjust your costs accordingly.

Business is not a charity

Using the previous examples, a 4% increase in inflation can wipe out the profit of most small businesses. Whereas a 7% increase you automatically go negative into a loss.

Look, nobody likes price increases, but it is a reality of our time. For the past 10+ years most of us have enjoyed a low predictable inflation rate below 2%. Even then I have encouraged small business owners to take annual price increases. Because 2% compounded annually equates to over 6.1% over a 3 year period.

Business is not a charity. You are here to make money. The more you make, the more security you can bring to your firm and your employees. The more money you make, the more you can pay your staff and yourself.

Some options

Being worried if your customers can afford the new price is noble but not realistic. There’s no point of losing money just to avoid increasing your prices. Yes, you can always offer a one time discount to your better customers as a way to ease them into the new pricing. But I stress one-time.

I also know that there always seems to be someone willing to do the job cheaper and to that I say let them. Every industry has someone who offers low pricing but it’s my experience that most don’t last long.

Alternatively, you can do what many consumer goods companies are doing, reduce the size of the product to maintain a price. Offering your customers a “lite” version of your existing product or services may be all you need to do.

Minor tweaks such as a decrease in reporting, a reduced delivery frequency or even quicker payment terms are just some of the examples. These small adjustments can be used to maintain a given price point.

Another thing to always keep in mind is if those customers are only shopping on price, you must ask yourself whether you want them as customers in the first place. Often, they are not loyal and will change suppliers for a nickel.

It has been my experience that profit margins are never high enough. So, increasing your prices to ensure inflation doesn’t destroy your company, is just smart business.

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Get More LIFE Out of Your Business

You shouldn’t be the hardest working person in your company.

Many small business owners find that even after the struggling start-up years, they’re working too many hours and still managing every aspect of their businesses.

Greg Weatherdon has been there, done that. As an entrepreneur, he learned not only how to get a business to the point of running smoothly, but also how to reduce the number of hours he worked, delegate more responsibility to his employees, and take longer vacations while his business chugged along like a well-oiled machine. And now he is providing the secret to success.

Do you suffer from any of the following?

1. Business ownership isn’t living up to the dream.
2. Endless workdays.
3. You can’t find good people.
4. Profits are less than expected.
5. You can never take a vacation.

You’re not alone. But there is a solution. As Greg demonstrates, with some time and effort, you really can Get More Life Out Of Your Business.

For Thanksgiving we decided to get the whole family together and rent an Airbnb. Since our family has grown significantly over the last few years with marriages and the explosion of grandchildren, we now require a much larger accommodation. 

For the most part, many of the larger places also come with a higher price tag. In keeping with the higher price, such locations typically boast of a higher level of amenities. This is all good and is what it is.

As one would expect, with a higher price tag, there is an expectation that everything should be in working order and that cleanliness should be a priority, especially during this Covid era.

Person lying in bed-complacency

Unfortunately, what we encountered is a case of what I refer to as a “Lazy owner”. This is something I regularly caution all business owners against. No one sets out to be a lazy owner, but it happens to most of us at one time or another. Another term that can be easily substituted for Lazy owner is – complacency.

Complacency doesn’t just happen overnight, at least not for most people. No, it creeps in over time, where little by little we let our standards drop.

Short term vs long term complacency

Short term complacency is easy to understand and why it happens. When you consider that as entrepreneurs, we are always on and even for the best run companies, there are times when we have more issues to deal with than available resources. So, in our haste, we might let our standards drop a little.

However, once the storm has passed, conscientious owners usually up their game and re-establish their standards. Not ideal, but it happens.

Then there is the issue of long term complacency that has the potential to damage your business reputation. This kind of complacency truly reflects the lazy owner and is rooted in arrogance.

I say arrogance because the owners believe that they have a great product or service. It might be because it is popular and in demand now, so they feel they no longer have to try as hard anymore and dismiss any feedback as whining.

It’s been my experience that these owners used to sweat every detail about their business. They did so in order to establish themselves so, hard work is not foreign to them. In addition, their current success, reinforces that they have good instincts. Unfortunately, these good instincts can also lead owner to reject and negative feedback, because they think they are in tune. This combination can easily lull an owner into complacency.

Unfortunately, they fail to realize that they must put forth some effort in order to uphold those original standards. Sadly, many let success go to their heads and over time they lose sight of the finer points of their business and good enough becomes the norm.

Our experience

The Airbnb we selected had very high ratings and came with a price tag of $800/night. Not cheap but considering the size of our gang and the promised level of amenities, it was acceptable.

In general, the property met our expectations, however on closer observation, signs of complacency were everywhere. The following is the list of deficiencies we encountered during our 4 night stay:

1. Numerous burnt out light bulbs.
2. Very weak or no Wi-fi in many parts of the house. The listing stated working wi-fi however, the router was situated in a bedroom in the far corner of the original stone farmhouse which is not conducive for signal travel. Therefore, most of us had to use our cell phone data plans.
3. Satellite TV not functioning.
4. Water dispenser/ice machine on the fridge was non-functioning.
5. Remnants of leftover dry foodstuff from previous guests including empty containers.
6. An instruction manual that included updated data that was placed behind older instructions. The binder was full of with updated handwritten notes that conflicted with printed sheets and chalkboard information i.e., Wi-fi password, security codes, etc.
7. Numerous hairs found in and around master bedroom and bathroom.
8. A severely stained mattress and no mattress cover in one of the rooms. Unfortunately, it was not discovered until we were checking out
9. Unresponsive owner to text messages.

Except for the cleanliness issues, such as the hair and mattress cover, none of the items were a deal breaker, but it goes to show a level of inattention that is not acceptable.

So, what should have been done?

1. This owner should be doing is a quick walk around inspection between guests after the cleaning crew had left. Doing a walk around with a checklist would ensure the property was up to standards and that the cleaning crew was maintaining the property. I call this trust but verify.

2. Check the instruction manual. How hard would it be to check that the instruction book was up to date, without conflicting information? Writing in new information and scratching out the old is not acceptable.

3. If the appliances don’t work as expected, communicate that to the next guests or replace the unit.

4. Look up and around to ensure the lights are functioning.

5. Test the wi-fi and satellite tv and take corrective actions without the client having to discover sub-par performance. In other words, be proactive instead of reactive.

Unfortunately, this property appears to be consistently booked and therefore has effectively lulled the owner into a false sense complacency.

The review

After checkout, Airbnb requests a review of the stay. So, in a very diplomatic way, we mentioned the deficiencies. Unfortunately, the owner responded in what I like to call the “Not my fault syndrome”, suggesting that we were somehow at fault for some of the shortcomings and that we should have notified her, etc. etc. Which, by the way, we had attempted, but got no response.

So, instead of humbly apologizing, this owner goes on the attack. If you dig deep enough into the reviews of this property, you will discover that this a recurring pattern by this owner when faced with critical or negative reviews. Frankly, it’s not a great way to build relationships.

So, what’s the lesson?

I get it. We are all guilty of letting things slip occasionally, but it’s what you do about it that counts. When was the last time you took a fresh look at your office, retail space or warehouse? Is it looking a little tattered or cluttered with stuff? Are there a few more scuff marks on the wall or chipped paint than the last time you noticed?

What about your vehicles, are they clean and safe for your staff to drive? How do your employees look? Are they presentable or have their standards dropped? How do they talk to customers? Are they a little abrupt? How’s their language? Is it professional or a little too casual?

Even after you have asked all these questions, there is still a much bigger question to ask, and that is, how is your attitude? Because as an owner, you set the tone. Have you become little complacent and as result so have your employees?

Yes, these are all little things, but they go a long way to projecting your professionalism and show your customers that you are not a lazy owner.

You may also enjoy BURNOUT

 

Comments, thoughts or ideas for future topics? Let me know in the comment section below

Get More LIFE Out of Your Business

You shouldn’t be the hardest working person in your company.

Many small business owners find that even after the struggling start-up years, they’re working too many hours and still managing every aspect of their businesses.

Greg Weatherdon has been there, done that. As an entrepreneur, he learned not only how to get a business to the point of running smoothly, but also how to reduce the number of hours he worked, delegate more responsibility to his employees, and take longer vacations while his business chugged along like a well-oiled machine. And now he is providing the secret to success.

Do you suffer from any of the following?

1. Business ownership isn’t living up to the dream.
2. Endless workdays.
3. You can’t find good people.
4. Profits are less than expected.
5. You can never take a vacation.

You’re not alone. But there is a solution. As Greg demonstrates, with some time and effort, you really can Get More Life Out Of Your Business.

One of the biggest challenges of a service business is managing your inventory. Now you might wonder what inventory, besides a few stationary supplies you may have, that need to be managed?

Well, unlike a manufacturing, retail or a distribution business, where you have physical inventory that needs to be stored, sold and then replenished, service businesses on the other hand have a single and very unique inventory -TIME!

 

3 people standing inside big clock

Time- It’s how you get paid!

Because as a service business, your product is the knowledge that you and your staff carry around in your head. Putting this knowledge or expertise to work is how you generate your revenue and that’s usually in the form of hours worked.

It can be argued that service technicians like appliance or auto repair have inventory, but for the most part you hire them for their knowledge and they in turn they charge you for the time it takes to fix the problem. Therefore, the parts although important, are secondary to diagnostic skills the technician possess, because without those skills, there wouldn’t be a part to sell.

Similarly, sales and marketing services companies also generate revenue by the hour, however, it is rarely shown as such as most fees are displayed as a total for a given project. But all the fees are calculated as an estimate of how much time or hours are involved in executing the project by the various staff members.

Establish some balance

One of the biggest issues with owners of service businesses is understanding that their inventory is finite and that they should be running their companies with that in mind. Unfortunately, this is contrary to how many of these businesses operate. They assume that they can just put in more time and work longer hours. Although feasible in the short term, it is rarely a long term strategy. Yet so many continue to do so.

There are some advantages to managing your business based on your available inventory of time. First off, it should bring a sense of balance to a business. Balance, as in work life balance.
Secondly, it would allow you to establish realistic delivery timelines to the customer. Let’s be honest, we all think we can complete an assignment quicker than reality dictates but that just stresses out your staff or annoys the client when we are late. So being realistic can reduce the occurrence of both.

Additional benefits of managing your inventory can be significant on the financial front. Foremost, you’ll quickly understand whether you are charging enough and whether your existing inventory of hours available can support your financial demands.

Calculate how much time you really have

Furthermore, you should also discover how efficient or inefficient your organization is and where improvements can be made. Increases in efficiencies can greatly enhance your profitability. A simple metric such as revenue per hour is great place to start in benchmarking any improvements. This calculation is done by simply dividing your total revenue by total payroll hours for any given period, including your own.

So, how do you calculate this inventory? Well, it is easier than you think, and it really doesn’t matter whether your staff is making $20/hr or $200/hr as it is the exact same calculation. Earning a higher hourly rate does not give you more hours in a day, as we all get the same 24hrs.

The following example is how you calculate your total available inventory of time in a service business.

1. Assume a 40 hour work week = 2,080 hrs
2. Assume 3 weeks vacation = (120)
3. Assume 11 statutory holidays = (88).
4. Assume 5 sick days = (40)
5. Assume 2×15 mins breaks/day = (12.5)
Total available hours 1855.5 hrs

So before doing this exercise, most owners assume they have 40 hours a week or 2080 hours per year per employee that are available to them. However, after taking into account vacations, stat holidays, sick days and coffee breaks, that number is reduced by 11% to 1855 hours per year or a loss of almost 6 weeks out of a 52 week year.

This number actually gets worse if employees are required to travel to clients as in the case of a repair technician or a salesperson. You can easily lose and additional 2 hours per day which is a potential loss of an additional 13 weeks per annum. So now we are down to 33 weeks of billable time in a year or 1335 hours from a high of 2080 hours. That’s a 36% reduction in available inventory or billable time.

Once you understand how much available time you have, you can now start to make realistic assumptions and projections. Of course, the challenge to all service businesses is the ability to maximize your available time inventory and make sure it’s productive.

Hiring more people not the best option

Unfortunately, the only way to increase your inventory in a service business, is to hire more people. But realistically, that’s not necessarily the best option, especially if you have demand peaks and valleys in your business throughout the year. So, finding tools or processes to increase productivity might be a better avenue to maximize your existing inventory.

Realistically, we are all faced with slack periods where there’s insufficient demand and people are not busy. Sadly, you can’t store any unused time for future use. Because once that minute hand on the clock moves forward, you have lost that inventory forever.

So, sit down with staff and explain the impact they can have on the business by being more efficient. Then ask them where the bottlenecks are and their suggestions to get rid of them, because once that inventory is gone, it’s gone!

You may also enjoy episode #59 Quit Digging!

 

Get More LIFE Out of Your Business

You shouldn’t be the hardest working person in your company.

Many small business owners find that even after the struggling start-up years, they’re working too many hours and still managing every aspect of their businesses.

Greg Weatherdon has been there, done that. As an entrepreneur, he learned not only how to get a business to the point of running smoothly, but also how to reduce the number of hours he worked, delegate more responsibility to his employees, and take longer vacations while his business chugged along like a well-oiled machine. And now he is providing the secret to success.

Do you suffer from any of the following?

1. Business ownership isn’t living up to the dream.
2. Endless workdays.
3. You can’t find good people.
4. Profits are less than expected.
5. You can never take a vacation.

You’re not alone. But there is a solution. As Greg demonstrates, with some time and effort, you really can Get More Life Out Of Your Business.

With the vaccine rollouts well under way in many countries, the talk has turned to the reopening of the economies. One of the biggest issues facing many entrepreneurs, is the return to the workplace.

At the start of the pandemic, millions of office workers were sent home to work remotely. Once the initial technical issues were resolved, everybody seemed to profess that they are never going back to the office and their future was a zero commute remote work environment.

So confident that this new structure would be the new forever normal, many moved out of the big cities to rural or small communities, never expecting to commute again. Unfortunately, this might be a decision that they come to regret.

Employees happy to return to the office

Understandably, no one knew if or when a vaccine would be developed. However, in less than two years many countries are experiencing high vaccination rates and are slowly reopening much of their economies as life returns to some form of normalcy.

So, what’s next? Well for starters, offices will begin to reopen, and people will be required to show up for work. Just wait for the howls of injustice, that after more than a year of remote work, employees will be required to be physically present at their place of work. But, the interesting thing is that this vocal group may be in the minority.

Research

Recent research from KPMG is revealing that the majority of employees want to return to the workplace stating they “miss the social interaction, the buzz, the creativity of being at work”. However, they do want some form of hybrid arrangement combining the opportunity of working remotely part of the week.

Interestingly, another survey conducted by Accenture of financial firms in the US shows that 80% of executives want their employees to return office at least 4 to 5 days a week. Clearly there’s a misalignment between employee and employer expectations.

Just to muddy the waters a little more, EY conducted another survey, whereby more than half the employees surveyed around the world would consider leaving their job post covid-19, if they are not afforded some form of flexibility in where and when they work.

This juxtaposition could prove quite interesting for both parties. When you consider that most employers want people in the office, where exactly are those employees willing to leave their present positions going to go?

Lots of discussion

Apparently, HR consulting firms and employment lawyers have been exceptionally busy over the past 18 months. For the most part they been dealing with work from home challenges many businesses have had to manage, and it doesn’t look like it will subside any time soon.

The new challenge is how to deal with the return to office post Covid-19.

But, depending on the jurisdiction, employees may not have much choice as to where they work. According to some employment lawyers, employers have the right to expect their employees to return to the office as the pandemic was an aberration or a departure from the norm and didn’t change the employment contract.

Granted, for some businesses, working from home may not be an issue and therefore will continue the practice. However, other employers will be less open to continuing the work from home concept. This is primarily because the pandemic has shown that communications, productivity, and creativity has suffered because of remote working.

In SBM #89, Work From Home I related how IBM recalled 11,000 of their employees back to the office 18 months after sending them home to work remotely. They realized that they were missing out on the innovation that happened through in person interactions. So, I think there’s an opportunity to learn from their experience.

Small business soap making

Now what?

So, the question to small business owners is what are you going to do? This question needs to be dealt with now and should not be put off, because once the economies reopen, you may be just too busy to give this the necessary thought.

The best advice I can give any employer is to decide what you want. Yes, it’s important to weigh the needs of your employees against any decision you make. But one thing we must remember is that your business is not a democracy. At the end of the day, it’s your business, your vision and your decision. The buck really does stop with you.

 

Managing the desire of employees to work when and where they want to will be an absolute nightmare for most small businesses. And let’s be honest, the reason many employees want this flexibility is that they are free to do what they want, when they want to do it. Whether that’s going to the gym or shopping and they’ll just do the work at nights or on weekends.

When you consider that prior to the pandemic the clarion call was for work life balance and the separation of the two. Now some have reversed their position solely in order to support their desire for utmost flexibility. Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works. Business needs to operate in a structured environment, where individuals can depend on their teammates to be available when needed.

For example, when everyone was working 9 to 5 at the office and a crisis erupted, the typical reaction was to gather everyone around and brainstorm a solution. The same could be said about an urgent opportunity. However, with everyone working when they want, chances are your company can’t effectively react with the urgency that these situations require. Unless of course you mandate that everyone needs to be available during normal working hours, but that is contra to their desire to work where and when they want.

Will a hybrid model work?

Much discussion has taken place around some form of hybrid solution, whereby employees work part of the time in the office and the rest of the time at home. This may be easier for a large company but probably less so for a small business.

Another major challenge to the hybrid model, is who gets to participate? It could be argued that administrative people can split their work, but what about the person responsible for shipping, receiving or order fulfillment? How do you make this situation equitable?

Another way to look at it, is if your employees were unhappy before pandemic, you probably have a leadership or other issues. However, if for the most part everyone was happy before Covid-19, then why should you change?

For many entrepreneurs, this situation is going to cause a few sleepless nights as they try to weigh their needs versus the needs of their employees. But at the end of the day, you have got to do what’s best for the business.

 

Get More LIFE Out of Your Business

You shouldn’t be the hardest working person in your company.

Many small business owners find that even after the struggling start-up years, they’re working too many hours and still managing every aspect of their businesses.

Greg Weatherdon has been there, done that. As an entrepreneur, he learned not only how to get a business to the point of running smoothly, but also how to reduce the number of hours he worked, delegate more responsibility to his employees, and take longer vacations while his business chugged along like a well-oiled machine. And now he is providing the secret to success.

Do you suffer from any of the following?

1. Business ownership isn’t living up to the dream.
2. Endless workdays.
3. You can’t find good people.
4. Profits are less than expected.
5. You can never take a vacation.

You’re not alone. But there is a solution. As Greg demonstrates, with some time and effort, you really can Get More Life Out Of Your Business.

A year ago, had you asked small business owners what 5 things could put them out of business?, I would have bet a pandemic would not have been on their top 10 let alone their top 50 things. But a lot has changed in just over a year. According to the CFIB (Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses), it is estimated that 1 in 6 small businesses won’t survive because of Covid-19. The UK is also predicting hundreds of thousands of failures with the US expecting that number to exceed 1 million according to McKinsey.

Assuming the 1 in 6 estimate to be true, that means that approximately 83% of small businesses will survive. Most certainly won’t flourish and it’ll take a long time to recover, but they will survive. Unfortunately, with the ongoing lockdowns, just surviving is incredibly stressful, to say nothing about how exhausting it can be.

What 3 things could put you out of business?

5 areas that require every owners attention

Managing the work-from-home environment is not easy for most small business owners. For many, current technology has made it possible to continue, but only after a number of implementation headaches and costs. The learning curve has been steep. Because for many, technology is just something they’ve never understood.

What we need to understand, is that most small businesses are run in an impromptu or spontaneous manner. The owners have been so busy trying grow their businesses prior to the pandemic, that the majority lacked formal processes. Most just spent their days acting, or more accurately, reacting to whatever the day had instore for them. They are more like fire fighters directing their staff on a moment to moment basis depending what fire was burning the most brightly.

To be sure this pandemic has forced a few owners to get better organized in how they structure their working days, but for many it has become quite the challenge in keeping everyone focused, productive and motivated. In episode #93 Pivot, I discussed the whole concept of pivoting, which is far more difficult than people are led to believe, but so is changing the way a company operates.

So this brings me to my question – What 3 things would put you out of business? Well if you are surviving, you can scratch off pandemic. Sadly, because so many entrepreneurs are so focused in the moment, they don’t realize there are a whole host of issues that can kill their
businesses in a heart beat. The following is a primer list of 5 pretty common areas that require every owners attention, in order to safeguard their business’s future.

 

 

 

 

“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise, will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

Edward Stanley, former Prime Minister of the UK

#1 Your health

Unfortunately, most of us don’t even consider what would happen to their life’s work if they were suddenly struck with an injury or worse a life threatening illness. What would happen to the business if you were laid up? Would it survive? If not, what would you do for income? How would you handle the debt? How would it affect your family? This is serious stuff and requires your attention. Contrary to what we think, we are not invincible.

The following are few of solutions that you can minimize the impact of a health problem.

First off, you should investigate disability insurance. Yes, it can be expensive and yes, it usually pays out less than you’re currently earning. But something is better than nothing.

Secondly, many health related issues are self inflicted by our lifestyle. Making time for some form of exercise should be mandatory for every owner. It can range from taking a daily walk to a full on cross-fit workout at the gym. Something is better than nothing. There’s a wonderful saying that kind of drives the point home and it is from Edward Stanley, former Prime Minister of the UK that says:

“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise, will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

An additional item that should be mandatory in every small business and that is delegate. By delegating absolutely everything you can to your existing staff, this will certainly relieve some of the pressure. That way, there’s a good chance that the business will survive, while you are laid up. Unfortunately, this is one of the hardest things to get entrepreneurs to do. (See Small Business Minute #18 Delegating is easier than you think)

#2 Key staff quits.

Having your key staff member quit can really ruin a perfectly good day and for some people it can take their business down.

People leave companies for a lot of reasons and sometimes there is nothing you can have do to prevent it. From career changes, to better opportunities to relocations, sometimes it’s just out of your hands. But in many cases it’s not. One of the top reasons employees leave is the lack of recognition and this is something you can control. An occasional pat on the back or some other form appreciation goes a long way. It can be as simple as a thank you for their efforts.

However, if a key employee leaves, what’s your plan? If you’re like most you don’t have one and chances are you don’t have a deep bench of trained people ready to assume that position.

Therefore one of the best things you can do is to cross train individuals. The secondary person doesn’t have to be as well versed as the key person, but they should have been given enough exposure that they could perform the job being vacated even though they may be less efficient.

Additionally, creating in depth documented processes for all positions, allows other personnel to perform those functions until such time as you can find a replacement. This will go a long way to ensure that your company will survive. (see SBM #34 Processes- Shampoo, Rinse and Repeat)

#3 Business interruption

Covid-19 aside, there are lots of things that can cause business interruptions. A flood, a fire, even vandalism can shut your business down for weeks, if not months. A closed business can’t generate cashflow, yet bills still need to be paid.

It is estimated that over 80% of small businesses have no form of business interruption insurance that would pay out a set dollar amount in the event of a catastrophe. This is different than typical commercial/business insurance, whereby the physical damage to your business is repaired. Business Interruption on the other hand can cover Gross Earnings, Profits, Extra Expenses. Certainly worth considering.

#4 Competition

What would happen if a new competitor came into your market, how would you deal with it? Being so focused on the here and now, is a great way to get caught off guard. As I’ve stated before, too many entrepreneurs are so busy just handling the daily priorities, they never have time to lift their heads up to see what going.

Inevitably, they are not even aware of that a competitor has set up shop until they start stealing your customers. By the time they do realize what’s happening that trickle of desertions turns into a flood and is hard to reverse.

One of the best ways to avoid getting sideswiped is to stay in touch with all your customers on a regular basis. Too often the only time business owners talk with their customers is when they call in an order. The thought is, “they know where we are if they need us and I don’t want to bother them.”

What 3 things could put you out of business?

 

Staying in regular contact with customers signals that they are important to your business and can also provide you with competitive intelligence. Most customer don’t change on a whim unless you’ve treated them poorly. So, by staying in touch the fact that a competitor is circling is often shared, thereby giving you time to react. (See SBM #76 Pick up the phone)

#5 Bad debt

This one item alone has contributed to the demise of many small businesses. Aside from not being diligent in collecting receivables, having one customer represent more than 15% of your business can be potential fatal if they close their doors or refuse to pay.

When you consider that many small businesses have net incomes of less than 10%, taking a hit from a major customer can be devastating. For example if a client reneges on a $20,000 invoice and you only net 10%, you’ll need to generate $200,000 in additional revenue just to recover that loss.

When you think about it, most small business are not flush with spare cash, missing out a major payment means you can’t cover payroll, rent or suppliers.

If you do find yourself with a client that represents more than 15%, you have two choices. First grow your business to get them below that threshold or alternatively collect early and often. Don’t forget you can set the rules, so don’t be shy about protecting your company. (See SBM #20 Cash Flow, the Breath of Life).

These are just 5 areas that should get you thinking, but every business has it’s Achilles heel. Spending some time thinking about “What 3 things would put you out of business?” certainly deserves your attention. Then pick the #1 item on your list and make a plan.

Let me know your thought sand ideas in the comment section.

Get More LIFE Out of Your Business

You shouldn’t be the hardest working person in your company.

Many small business owners find that even after the struggling start-up years, they’re working too many hours and still managing every aspect of their businesses.

Greg Weatherdon has been there, done that. As an entrepreneur, he learned not only how to get a business to the point of running smoothly, but also how to reduce the number of hours he worked, delegate more responsibility to his employees, and take longer vacations while his business chugged along like a well-oiled machine. And now he is providing the secret to success.

Do you suffer from any of the following?

1. Business ownership isn’t living up to the dream.
2. Endless workdays.
3. You can’t find good people.
4. Profits are less than expected.
5. You can never take a vacation.

You’re not alone. But there is a solution. As Greg demonstrates, with some time and effort, you really can Get More Life Out Of Your Business.

Work from home is not a new concept. People have been looking for any excuse to do so since the turn of the century. Initially, Friday’s was the defacto work from home day. It’s popularity was driven mostly to get a jump on the weekend, more so than trying to get distraction free time in order to get caught up. For evidence, just check the highway traffic on Friday’s afternoons during the summer, as people are fleeing the city.

Over time as work from home became more and more accepted, Wednesday also became popular. Wednesday is a natural work from home day as it not only breaks up your week, but for many was a legitimate opportunity to work uninterrupted. The mid week isolation gave individuals the chance to focus on major assignments or priorities. Of course, people raved about how productive they are working from home and most were.

So what changed?

For centuries people have been making their way into the office. Initially most could walk to their place of employment. But over time, as cities grew, public transit became the norm for those who had to travel greater distance than walking. Finally, as the downtown core in many cities became the commercial hub and with people moving to the suburbs for affordable housing, the car began to dominate as the preferred method to commute in many cities.

As this cycle of commercial intensification in the downtown cores and suburb getting farther away, going to work went from a simple task to a stressed induced war pitting driver against driver to see who can gain the best lane advantage. Depending on where you lived, this daily ritual could easily last from 30 minutes to over an hour, twice daily. So needless to say, people started looking for any opportunity to get the occasional reprieve from this daily grind.

But that’s not all!

Another major catalyst for what has become the Work from Home (WFH) movement, is the growth of the open office concept. Long before Covid-19 changed our world, companies of all sizes were jumping on the open office concept. Gone were the cubicles, the open office concept, embraced by the major tech companies, was the model to follow.

Contrary to what is expounded by management of the team building benefits of an open office, the real motivation is cost saving. Open office concepts save a lot of money because they pretty much eliminate the need for all but minimal leasehold improvements. Plus they offer a ton of savings on office furnishings.

What I find genuinely interesting with the open office concept, is that most senior managers all end up with offices. If it’s good for the goose, shouldn’t it be good for the gander? Of course, they justify it based on their need for privacy. Shouldn’t these managers be subjected to the same restrictions and annoyances they place on their employees?

To be sure the open office concept is not new. Just check on those black and white photos of the clerical pools of 1950’s, where there were rows upon rows of desks in large rooms. But those were days before computers and automation. Most of those jobs were repetitive task driven activities and although these individuals were knowledgeable, they weren’t considered knowledge workers. Most of those tasks of yesteryear have been replaced by automated solutions with little human interaction.

open office 1950's

So many of today’s workers are considered knowledge workers and are required to think and make decisions. They need to be creative and require time to focus. The reality is that as individuals, we are creative at different times of the day. Some individuals are at their best creatively in the morning, some at midday and other late afternoon and not necessarily everyday. Let’s be honest, creativity can very spontaneous and generally can’t be scheduled. So reserving one of the “quiet rooms” located on the perimeter of the open office concept, at a moments notice, is not always possible.

At the end of the day, the reason why people want to work from home is that there are too many distraction in the open office concept. Whether those distractions are in the form of visual, auditory, or human interruptions they abound everywhere and everyday.  There’s just no privacy. Interruptions by fellow employees appears to be the most frustrating issue reported, because there’s no place to hide or call your own. An attitude that, you’re at your desk, therefore it’s okay to talk to you, is the norm. You’re living in a fishbowl.

As a result, individuals are going to great lengths now to develop the virtual version of “do not disturb” signals and it is stressing them out. Wearing headphones and not looking up when someone goes by, is essentially an indicator that “I’m busy”, but even then many teammates are oblivious to these indicators.

As a curious individual, I’m hard wired to be constantly scanning my environment. Maybe it’s a hold over from the prehistoric days when you really had to be aware of your surroundings, otherwise you became somebody’s lunch. So keeping my head down all day, is as big of a distraction as being interrupted.

Is work from home any better?

For people around the world, this wasn’t a conscious decision. Covid-19 just forced everybody’s hand to work from home because there wasn’t much of an alternative. After three months, many are liking it, but many aren’t and as time moves on, there appear to be cracks forming in their new love affair with the work from home concept.

For those fortunate to have a spare room, the transition was acceptable. However, if a couple are both relegated to work from home, then someone is going to get stuck at the kitchen or dining room table. This is okay for a day or two, but for three plus months, I don’t think so.

So, if this work from home movement is to become permanent, how are individuals going to manage this? You can’t expect most couples to share that spare bedroom and work side by side, that’s just a recipe for disaster. Most individuals can’t afford a bigger house, so what’s the option. What about condo and apartment dwellers? No, work from home is not sustainable under many individuals current lifestyle.

Taken a step further and assuming an individual has the physical space to work from home, who’s going to pay for all the necessary upgrades to make it workable and at what cost? What about security and liability? What if someone gets injured? What if someone trip or falls going to their home office, where does the liability begin or end? Is that a workers compensation issue or a safety issue? Believe me, I don’t have the answers and I’m not sure anybody does at this point.

Let’s talk about team unity

In order to maintain communication and team unity, everybody jumped on the available collaboration tools available such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and albeit a little late to the party, Google’s Meet, just to name a few. For all the praise for the ease of use and quick implementation of these tools, it’s just not the same as an in person meeting.

Having participated in a few of these digital meetings, I’ve come up with some observations that I have no idea how they are to be solved. Granted people are getting far more comfortable on the platforms, but they are draining. Gone are all the physical queues we become accustomed to. When to speak, avoiding talking over someone paying attention are just a couple of the myriad of challenges individuals face on video platforms.

Because we’ve done it so long, most people are comfortable in live meetings, albeit bored on occasion. Being on a video conference requires 100% attention to the screen because you have 6, 10 or 20 people staring back at you for the duration, so you need to be on your best behaviour. Reports from individuals that are on video calls or meetings a good portion of their day, are reporting that they are exhausted, where they weren’t in in-person meetings.

Leaders checking in

Now I will profess that I subscribe to the Management by Walking Around style of management. I wasn’t aware that my style actually had a name until such time as I read In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert Wateman many years ago.

Essentially, it’s what the name infers. As opposed to a formal meeting, a manager wanders around checking in with their staff in an impromptu manner. It’s not about catching people slacking off, it’s about creating informal teaching moments. But at a deeper level, it’s about connecting with your staff by having more face time. The concept apparently originated at Hewlett Packer or HP as it is known today.

There was a study done by Leadership IQ on the Importance of Leadership. The report states that 50% of employees spend less than 3 hours a week with their leader. However, those that spend 6 or more hours per week with their leaders are

  • 29% more inspired
  • 30% more engaged
  • 15% more motivated
  • 10% more innovative

This level of engagement, although possible, will be difficult to achieve using video conferencing. Managers of all types will need to reinvent themselves if work from home is the new normal. I’m just not sure it’ll be as effective as face-to-face.

If this is ever going to work, managers will need to up their game and reinvent themselves. Team members will worry that because they are out of site, they’re out of mind and fear they won’t get the recognition they want or more importantly need.

Personal boundaries

The curse of the smartphone has stretched many peoples day, as emails or text messages come in at all hours of the day. As a result, many have defaulted into responding to them no matter when they come in. The justification is that it’s only one email and, what the heck, if I answer it now, it’ll be one less thing to do tomorrow. In addition, email and messaging has created a false sense of urgency and therefore an answer is expected immediately. This was bad enough before Covid-19 and I can only imagine what the new normal will look like.

Where all this really falls apart is if people are permanently anchored at home, they naturally loose their work boundaries. They’ll take advantage of doing errands that were traditionally relegated to nights and weekends. And they’ll justify it by they can catch up on their work later that night or weekends. Boundaries are going to get blurred by managers and employees alike.

Humans are social

Let’s remember, that for the most part humans are social and need interaction. That can’t be replicated on video or conference calls. There’s a potential risk that people will start to feel disconnected from the rest of your team as all those informal interaction become a thing of the past.

What companies need to be on the lookout for will be the potential reduction in innovation and creativity, much of which just happens when colleagues pump into each other at the water cooler or in the hallway. This can’t be replicated digitally.

Work from home has been tried in the past by some very large corporations and their experiments failed miserably. Granted the advance in technology will certainly improve the odds, but I don’t believe by much. IBM for all it’s technological know how, recalled about 11,000 of their employees back into the office 18 months ago after realizing they were missing out on the innovation that just happened through interacting in person.

What’s the solution?

When Covid-19 is in our rear view mirrors, I think most people will be back in their workplaces and rumours of the death of the office are premature. What might be interesting is a hybrid solution, whereby people will able to split their week or rotate days that they’re in the office. But for those companies, that are going fully remote, you’ll need to create some very unique skills in order to keep your teams organized, motivated and loyal. It won’t be easy

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Get More LIFE Out of Your Business

You shouldn’t be the hardest working person in your company.

Many small business owners find that even after the struggling start-up years, they’re working too many hours and still managing every aspect of their businesses.

Greg Weatherdon has been there, done that. As an entrepreneur, he learned not only how to get a business to the point of running smoothly, but also how to reduce the number of hours he worked, delegate more responsibility to his employees, and take longer vacations while his business chugged along like a well-oiled machine. And now he is providing the secret to success.

Do you suffer from any of the following?

1. Business ownership isn’t living up to the dream.
2. Endless workdays.
3. You can’t find good people.
4. Profits are less than expected.
5. You can never take a vacation.

You’re not alone. But there is a solution. As Greg demonstrates, with some time and effort, you really can Get More Life Out Of Your Business.

The outbreak of Covid-19 has got the world on lock down and many employees have transitioned to working at home. With that, many entrepreneurs are holding daily conference calls to keep teams connected.

The upside is many employees are having greater communication with their managers than they previously had. Unfortunately, many owners have never participated or hosted conference calls and in my conversations with participants, I’m hearing that many of these calls are bit chaotic and frustrating.

So I thought I’d offer up the following 6 tips to have better conference calls.

1. Be on time!

There’s nothing more distracting than someone joining a call late only to declare “Hi I’m here!”. This usually happens without consideration that with a call in progress, someone may be already talking, and your arrival and announcement totally disrupts the flow. Login quietly and wait until there’s a break in the topic to let people know you’ve arrived.

2. The meeting Chair

Whoever is hosting or chairing the call, needs to set some rules or guidelines in order to control the conversation and keep it on track. One thing I did when chairing in-person committee meetings in my many volunteer roles, was to make sure everybody had a chance to speak. Many people have great ideas or want to contribute to a conversation but just don’t have the confidence to speak up. These same people tend to be a little more reserved and therefore remain quiet. Let be honest there’s always a core group of people who monopolize conversations, so the quieter ones are little intimidated and don’t speak up.

So, in order to give these individuals a chance to air their ideas or concerns, I would keep track of who has spoken on a given topic and then I would go around the table and ask the individuals who hadn’t commented, if they had anything to add. This way they were given the opportunity to make their thoughts known.

In a conference call, the chair should state the issue or ask the question and then ask each individual, one at a time to comment. This alleviates the typical free for all that usually happens, and the conference call becomes more productive.

As a caveat, some conference calling platforms have the ability for individuals to digitally raise their hand to comment. However, many of conference calls taking place today calls are being held on mobile phones without these functions.

3. Set out an agenda

Just like in person meetings, whoever is running or chairing the call should put out an agenda beforehand. Since these conference calls will be daily or twice daily events, the list will be small. It’ll help at keeping everyone focused on the issues at hand.

4. Put your phone on mute

There’s nothing more annoying than background noise during conference calls. Since many people are going to be working from home, with kids and dogs underfoot, this is a big problem. So, if you’re not talking, put your phone on mute until it’s your turn.

5. No speaker phones or hands free.

Usually the sound quality when talking on speaker phone is significantly reduced. Using the speaker phone setting makes it difficult for everyone else to hear what your saying and requires immense concentration. Get a set of headphones if you need your hands to be free during the call. It’ll make the call more comfortable for everyone else.

6. Assign a minute taker

Just like any formal meeting someone should be taking minutes of the meeting. They don’t have to be long dissertations. Point form is sufficient and is really just a summary of issues and actions required. Unlike an office meeting, there’s little chance to do face to face follow up, so these minutes can be distributed shortly after the conference call ends and serves to keep everyone on task. The minute taker should be rotated between the callers every day.

These are trying times for most entrepreneurs. Many have never faced such a dramatic shift in they way they are forced to do business. However, this is a wonderful opportunity to try out those ideas you’ve always had, but never had the time to test.

Using conference calls to keep your arms around everyone and provide clear direction is just one of the tools, that did not exist or were the exclusive domain of large corporations not that many years ago.

Stay safe.

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Get More LIFE Out of Your Business

You shouldn’t be the hardest working person in your company.

Many small business owners find that even after the struggling start-up years, they’re working too many hours and still managing every aspect of their businesses.

Greg Weatherdon has been there, done that. As an entrepreneur, he learned not only how to get a business to the point of running smoothly, but also how to reduce the number of hours he worked, delegate more responsibility to his employees, and take longer vacations while his business chugged along like a well-oiled machine. And now he is providing the secret to success.

Do you suffer from any of the following?

1. Business ownership isn’t living up to the dream.
2. Endless workdays.
3. You can’t find good people.
4. Profits are less than expected.
5. You can never take a vacation.

You’re not alone. But there is a solution. As Greg demonstrates, with some time and effort, you really can Get More Life Out Of Your Business.

A few months ago, I finally did something that I had longed to do but just never got around to it. Not quite a bucket list item, but pretty close. That something was to drive a race prepared car on a closed road course. Calabogie Motorsports offers just such a program. The road course is just a hair over 5 kms that has 20 turns and enough of a straightaway to get you to question your sanity. But at the end of the day, I couldn’t help but draw many parallels between the days activities and running a small business.

It all started because my youngest son was planning on signing up for the half day training at the track, and it only took me a couple of minutes to invite myself along. It’s funny how these things always seem like a good idea until the early morning drive to the track makes you wonder if it really was.

Now driving is something I’ve done my entire life, having spent my early days as a long haul truck driver. Getting behind any vehicle with a steering wheel is something I’m comfortable with. What gave me pause, was the fact that I’d be hurtling along in a race car at over 200 kms. That plus the fact, you never want to be that guy that embarrasses himself in front of the other 10 participants, let alone your son. That can be somebody else’s job.

Briefing session

So, as we gathered in the training room at the appointed time, we were welcomed by a couple of gentlemen that were going to review the schedule of morning activities, the characteristics of the car, track conditions that day, safety rules and the meaning of the on-track flags. This brought about the first comparison to running a small business.

Small Business Tip#1 – Briefings

How often do you take the time to gather everybody together, to define the day’s or week’s activity? How often do you remind your group of why they’re here and what we’re hoping to achieve or gain that week? How often do we set expectations in a team environment? Although we have great intentions of doing so, I suspect we don’t do it often enough.

As a result, we just assume everybody knows what to do, when to do it and what’s expected. Sadly, this lack of direction or confirmation of understanding can lead to untold number of mistakes. Implementing, short briefing sessions on a weekly or daily basis, as well as at the beginning of a major assignment can greatly reduce confusion and ensure your team is focused on the same end results. Or as the saying goes, make sure everyone is on the same page.

Track Time

After a quick introduction to our in driver trainer, we made our way out to our cars. These race prepped cars, had windows replaced where needed with Plexiglas and removed where not necessary. I can tell you getting into these vehicles is quite the process as you weave yourself around and through the roll cage, much like performing a downward dog yoga move coupled with a reverse warrior pose to end up in a snug, but less than comfortable racing seat. They make it look so effortless on tv, but I can assure you it’s not.

For the first of three on track sessions, you are a passenger as the trainer puts the car through it’s paces and shows you what’s possible. As a first time passenger in a fully prepped race car, I can confess that it’s a whole new experience. Unfortunately, the sensory overload during the ride along, really wasn’t conducive to learning anything the trainer was saying. There was just too much information to be absorbed in a very unfamiliar environment with your senses being hammered by new inputs. However, I do remember him saying that sometimes you need to go slow to go fast, which I didn’t quite understand at the time.

Small Business Tip #2 –  Teaching moments

Too often we assume people understand the objectives. We throw so much information at them and then never take the time to confirm their understanding. To be sure we ask if everybody understands and of course heads nod in agreement. This can be because they don’t want to look foolish or more often, they actually think they do understand, but it may be a completely different understanding.

Taking a few extra moments to ask specific questions about expected results or executional details to truly confirm their understanding can go a long way in avoiding missteps. The reason for this extra steps is to make sure someone hasn’t misinterpreted a critical piece of information or expectation.

My Turn

So now it’s my turn behind the wheel. The moment you push the engine start button and the V8 roars to life, you know you’re not in Kansas any longer. The sheer raw power of the engine shakes the car and is felt in every fiber of your body. Not uncontrollably mind you, but enough to make you respect it’s potential and get focused. It’s also the time when you start thinking, what the hell have I done!

Sitting behind the wheel you realize that these cars are stripped down to their bare essence. An engine, a transmission, tires, body shell and absolutely no interior padding with only a handful of gauges. That’s it, just the basics. But seriously, what else do you need? These cars are built to go fast and stick to the track.

Small Business tip #3 – Simplify

How often do we have steps or unnecessary processes to getting a job, task or assignment done, just because we think it’s necessary? Do we have efficient processes? Can we strip down the process to it’s basics in order increase our deliverables? Has anybody asked, why we do it this way or is there a better, simpler way?

The race car is meant to go fast and it does so without any unnecessary frills. Shouldn’t we be running the most efficient businesses we can? If something doesn’t add real value to the customer, then it shouldn’t be there. Are we asking our staff for their input or suggestions? They are the ones that work with the processes every single day, they just may have a better way.

On the track

As I pulled out onto the track, I distinctly remember that the transmission and clutch had a familiar feel. It then dawned on me that it reminded me of my uncles farm trucks of my youth. The transmission and clutch had a very positive interaction and it was all business, no frills.

Staying in the safety lane all the while accelerating in order to merge with the other vehicles, it was at this point that I realized, I didn’t remember a thing my trainer had told me. However, being connected to him via headset as he sat in the passenger seat, I started receiving a constant stream of instructions that easily matched the speed of the car as we approached 200kms per hour.

For the next 15-20 minutes we did laps around the track as I desperately tried smooth out my handling and add a little finesse to an otherwise less than stellar run. At the end of the session, we made our way in for a debriefing session with all the participants as we asked, and they answered our questions.

Small Business Tip #4 –  Status updates

How often do we gather everyone to either get or give a status update on the company or an initiative? Scheduling regular but short debriefing sessions help to identify road blocks, allow for clarification and make course corrections. Checking in regularly can solve many minor issues before they become major issues that are impossible to correct.

The last session.

This last on track session is where I had my greatest breakthrough and an “Ah ha” moment. As with most people who do these things, I felt I was a pretty good driver and understood the basic concepts of racing, such as finding the straightest line through a curve, etc. However, that easier said than done as I consistently missed apex after apex on most turns. It was frustrating and humbling.

The trainer kept telling me to brake hard to scrub speed as I entered the tightest turns. I figured I understood the concept, but time and again, I’d blow the turn. I thought I was going slow enough to hit my mark, because going any slower wasn’t cool and we’re suppose to go fast, right?

So, on one particular lap I figured I’d slow down earlier and harder and see what happened. To my amazement, the car just hunkered down and dug in. We held the line and we rocketed out of the turn, with very little corrective input required on my part after pointing the car in the right direction. The throttle was wide open, it was almost textbook, and it was confirmed by my trainer’s comment “that’s what I’m talking about” through the headset.

Small Business tip #5 – Pump the brakes

Too often we’re in a rush to get the end result. Ambition is a great quality but needs to be tempered at times. The Navy Seals apparently have a saying that says “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast”. I know that sound contrary to what we believe, but it works.

Not always, but sometimes we just have to pump the brakes on an idea or initiative and stretch out the deadline. By doing so it gives us the time we need to make sure we have all the information, the right people and the capacity to handle the assignment. Whether that’s growing our business or contemplating pitching a large contract. This extra time may allow for a much smoother execution and less rework, because smooth is fast.

Go Slow to Go Fast

Going too fast can be very stressful for all involved and can set us up for mistakes. Knowing when to hammer the throttle and when to stand on the brakes is an artform in itself and I have a new found respect for professional drivers because it’s both mentally and physically draining controlling a race car at speed.

The same can be said of running your business too fast. Sometimes you just need to go slow to go fast.

I appreciate hearing your feedback to this or any of my posts. So share your thoughts below.

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Get More LIFE Out of Your Business

You shouldn’t be the hardest working person in your company.

Many small business owners find that even after the struggling start-up years, they’re working too many hours and still managing every aspect of their businesses.

Greg Weatherdon has been there, done that. As an entrepreneur, he learned not only how to get a business to the point of running smoothly, but also how to reduce the number of hours he worked, delegate more responsibility to his employees, and take longer vacations while his business chugged along like a well-oiled machine. And now he is providing the secret to success.

Do you suffer from any of the following?

1. Business ownership isn’t living up to the dream.
2. Endless workdays.
3. You can’t find good people.
4. Profits are less than expected.
5. You can never take a vacation.

You’re not alone. But there is a solution. As Greg demonstrates, with some time and effort, you really can Get More Life Out Of Your Business.

This is a guest post by Robert Fraser of Senior Exec Consulting an IT expert.

e-Transfers have been a wonderful convenience, especially as a small business, however there are some startling security issues.

So lets be honest, most of these can be traced back to lousy security habits on behalf of the person sending the e-transfer. Email systems being hacked and just plain bad passwords. The banks are backing away and not taking responsibility, so its time to do them properly.

Five things to increase security

If you use e-transfers or would like to (I’m a big fan), there are some simple things you can do to increase the security.

Let’s start with your email system:

Move away from the old POP and SMTP email systems. These systems are based on 1970/80s security. Microsoft Exchange or Google’s G Suite are great alternatives among others and they both allow you to use your own domain.

  1. No matter what – change your email password right now! Make sure it isn’t the same as any other password you use – your Facebook, LinkedIn or other sites. That way if one system gets hacked, they don’t have the password to everything.
  2. Use a minimum 8-10 character password. And here’s a tip – stop thinking of passwords and start using pass-phrases. Phrases are longer and are actually easier to remember.
  3. Make use of a password manager. Please get rid of that book with all the passwords crossed out or trying to remember them in your head. I personally use KeePass and sync it between all my devices through Google Drive.
  4. Change your email to use 2-factor security. Pretty much all email systems (Gmail, Outlook etc.) use 2-factor or MFA as an option and will eventually force them to be mandatory (as any Exchange user knows, Exchange is going through the switch now).

Three e-transfer tips

When using e-transfers, here’s a couple of tips:

  1. Use a passphrase instead of a word.
  2. Don’t send the passphrase by email. Verbally let the person you are sending the money to the password or use an encrypted messaging system such as WhatsApp. At the very least, send it to another email address that is different than the one you are sending the money to.
  3. If you receive a lot of e-transfers, register so they are automatically deposited in your account as soon as they are sent. No password needed and no one can change the receiving account on you.

These are just a few small things you can to increase your security. If you have any questions or need help, my contact information is below.

Contact Information         Robert Fraser – Senior Exec Consulting robert@srexecconsulting.ca

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Get More LIFE Out of Your Business

You shouldn’t be the hardest working person in your company.

Many small business owners find that even after the struggling start-up years, they’re working too many hours and still managing every aspect of their businesses.

Greg Weatherdon has been there, done that. As an entrepreneur, he learned not only how to get a business to the point of running smoothly, but also how to reduce the number of hours he worked, delegate more responsibility to his employees, and take longer vacations while his business chugged along like a well-oiled machine. And now he is providing the secret to success.

Do you suffer from any of the following?

1. Business ownership isn’t living up to the dream.
2. Endless workdays.
3. You can’t find good people.
4. Profits are less than expected.
5. You can never take a vacation.

You’re not alone. But there is a solution. As Greg demonstrates, with some time and effort, you really can Get More Life Out Of Your Business.

I’ve been considering this topic for quite some time but wasn’t sure it was worth addressing until a recent trip to New York City.

Having been out to dinner, we returned to our hotel and were waiting for the elevator to make its way to the ground floor. When the door finally slid open there was a young lady getting ready to disembark. Also, in the elevator, but tucked over to the side where the floor keypad is located, was a young man who was an employee of the hotel.

As we waited, the young lady began to step out of the elevator car, only to be cut off by the hotel employee. There was a look of confusion and shock on the young lady’s face as was on mine. Although it took a few nanoseconds to register with me what had just occurred, I yelled at the young man, “Hey dude, the customer goes first!”. To which he just kept on walking without acknowledging the comment.

As I turned back to the young lady, she said “no kidding, right?”, which gave me hope that this courtesy was still expected by a much younger generation.

Yield the right of way!

I’m not sure where I learned about this or whether it was just an extension of my upbringing, but whenever I crossed paths with a customer, I yielded the right of way. It’s a pretty simple and respectful philosophy that just became second nature to me over the years of retail sales and service.

For the most part, letting the customer go first, is still the norm, but I’m seeing a marked increase in number of instances where employees blatantly cut off customers in a retail setting. These individuals are completely oblivious of this simple protocol.

In addition, I’ve frequently watched as employees and customers converge at a doorway or in an aisle and instead of them holding the door or allowing the customer to go first, the employee just continues on as though they have the right-of-way. This is just wrong!

Customer expect to be treated with respect

The point of this is, our employees are an extension of our business image and values. More often than not they are the front line, customer facing vehicle of your company. How they act or conduct themselves reflects directly on your organization. Customer expect to be treated with respect and courtesy.

Although you may not think you need to explain these norms to employees, I’m letting you know, it’s one more thing you need to address. Assuming that employees get it, is always a mistake. Just consider the hotel example. So, if you expect employees to act in a certain way, then the only way to ensure a certain behaviour is to tell them what you expect.

It defines superior customer service

On the other hand, if you don’t think an employee cutting off a customer or not holding a door is no big deal, then you may have bigger problems, because it matters. You need to care at the granular level about these service issues. It’s part of what defines superior customer service and professionalism. It’s about respecting your customers.

Because respecting your customer, will never go out of fashion.

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Get More LIFE Out of Your Business

You shouldn’t be the hardest working person in your company.

Many small business owners find that even after the struggling start-up years, they’re working too many hours and still managing every aspect of their businesses.

Greg Weatherdon has been there, done that. As an entrepreneur, he learned not only how to get a business to the point of running smoothly, but also how to reduce the number of hours he worked, delegate more responsibility to his employees, and take longer vacations while his business chugged along like a well-oiled machine. And now he is providing the secret to success.

Do you suffer from any of the following?

1. Business ownership isn’t living up to the dream.
2. Endless workdays.
3. You can’t find good people.
4. Profits are less than expected.
5. You can never take a vacation.

You’re not alone. But there is a solution. As Greg demonstrates, with some time and effort, you really can Get More Life Out Of Your Business.