Category Archives for "Small Business"

Maintaining Professionalism in the Home Office

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Modern Luxury Loft / Apartment Architecture InteriorThere are many advantages to working from home, but there are many other aspects of working at home that can be traps to limit your productivity. Professionalism is a broad concept with many varying ideas included. The main goals of professionalism in the home office are to honour your clients and your client obligations.

Sorting Professionalism Concepts

The concept of professionalism changes based on where you do business. It is important for you to isolate those aspects that apply home office professionalism from the range of aspects that apply to regular office professionalism.

Your task is to isolate those aspects of professionalism that apply specifically to your situation, particularly when they involve how you communicate. So, for example, no matter where you’re located, you will need to follow the same proper phone etiquette and written correspondence rules dictated by common social rules of professionalism.

An often forgotten aspect of professionalism is how you behave when you’re on your own. A true professional, for example, always gives full effort over a course of time when being paid by the hour. So if you’re working on an hourly basis, it is your duty to limit personal interruptions. You shouldn’t be babysitting the children or preparing meals while you’re on the clock nor should you be updating your social networking profile online.

Even if you don’t work on an hourly basis, home office professionalism calls for you to limit outside influences that may decrease the quality of the work you do. You need to focus on your tasks even when they’re tasks you don’t like.

Develop Your Own Home Office Professionalism Policy

One of the things you can do to improve your own productivity is to put together a policy of professionalism. Many large businesses have similar documents to guide employees. You can simply take note of those things that help you work better and those things that don’t help. Combine these notes with how you should treat your contacts in the course of business in order to create your home office professionalism policy. Having such a policy written down provides a powerful reminder that will help guide you towards greater home office productivity.

3 Tips for Maintaining a Professional Image while Working from your Home

By Randall Orser | Small Business

würfel cube tips 3DFirst impressions are one of the most critical aspects of a good relationship with any client. A professional image can make or break a sale is a matter of moments. Too many work-at-home entrepreneurs allow their professional image to slip, leaving them vulnerable to many missed opportunities. This article will address three tips that will help anyone keep their professional image … well, professional.

Dress for Success

While most clients never see a work at home entrepreneur, it is important that the work at home entrepreneur dresses successfully. Dressing for success empowers them and helps them to feel more confident in their abilities. Dressing for success helps them to focus in on their responsibilities.

Secondly, if a work at home an entrepreneur has to make an impromptu visit to a client, they really should not show up in their pajamas. It can be very tempting for them to hang out in their “loungewear”, but it is important for them to remember that they are only as professional as they look and feel.

Separate Personal Space from Office Space

It is extremely difficult for any work at home entrepreneur to separate their personal life from their working life, but it has to happen, even if they have children. If they want their clients to see them as a business partner and not just some fly-by-night company, it is important that their children are not lingering around while they are on the phone, or a client is visiting.

Sometimes a work at home entrepreneur will have clients that want to visit. This is not a problem, so they should not get worked into a tizzy. However, they should make sure that the clients’ visit is enjoyable. If their clients have to navigate through the house, the entrepreneur should make sure that the pathway to the office is very short and clean. They do not want their client walking through the laundry room, past the bathroom, the living room and then the office.

Keep the Office Clutter Free

One mistake that a lot of work-at-home entrepreneurs fall into is allowing the children to play in their office area. It is important that they keep the office as clutter free as possible. Therefore, they should make sure that they do not have a lot of toys in their office. While they are their children (their pride and joy), this is their livelihood. Remember, it is more important to entertain the clients and not their children.

Ultimately, their professional image can be tarnished in a matter of seconds. A client can decide whether they want to sign a contract with them for $100,000.00 in a split second. They should not let that split second be negatively swayed because your their office is a mess.

Top 5 Time Management Strategies for Home Business Owners

By Randall Orser | Small Business

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business hand hold light bulb and business processIf you work in an office setting, your company and your boss largely dictate your work schedule. But, if you work at home, there is no one to give you deadlines or to tell you when you should start working. But then, you’ve got endless distractions to take your attention away from your work. Unless you’re extremely disciplined, you’ll find it difficult to accomplish a lot of work in a home environment. For this reason, it’s essential to learn some time management strategies so you can maximize your home-based business earnings. After all, your profitability depends on your productivity.

Create A Regular Work Schedule

One of the best ways to manage your time and stay organized is to work at approximately the same hours each day. Don’t just work whenever you feel like it. Instead, figure out the time of day when you’re most productive and schedule the bulk of your workload for that particular time. For most home business owners, this is the time when the house is most quiet and peaceful, such as when the kids are away at school or late at night when everyone is already sleeping. Observe your own work productivity and figure out the best hours for you.

Plan Your Work Day Around Your Regular Routine

Most home-based workers, especially work-at-home moms, have a lot of daily chores to do in addition to their workload. You may have to cook food for your family, bring the children to school, run errands, and so on. Instead of getting up from your work several times a day to do these chores, what you can do is to schedule these chores together in one or two time blocks during the day. This will allow you to work continuously on your business projects, ultimately increasing your productivity.

Stay Away from Potential Distractions

To do this, you first have to figure out what distracts you. For many work-at-home parents, unfinished housework is at the top of the list. However, if you’ve already set a schedule for such chores, all you have to do is ignore those unwashed dishes or unfolded laundry until it’s actually time to do them. Another popular distraction that home-based workers face is the Internet. You may tell yourself that you’ll check your email for just five minutes but before you know it, you’ve wasted two hours of your work time playing online games, chatting with friends, and checking various social networking sites. If you know you’re prone to being distracted by these sites, block them, at least during the times when you’re supposed to be working.

Don‘t Take Personal Calls During Your Working Hours

If you work in a regular office, would you entertain phone calls from friends who simply want to chat? Most likely not. The same should be true if you’re working from home. Let your friends and relatives know your working schedule and don’t entertain any non-urgent personal calls during these hours. Make them understand that it’s important that you not be interrupted while you work. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re now available for them to chat whenever they call.

Remember, Time is Money

In a home-based business, the size of your income is usually directly proportional to the time you spend working. In other words, the more you work, the more you earn. Keep this in mind and you’ll be more motivated to focus on your work instead of procrastinating and spending your time elsewhere.

The Price Factor in the Marketing Mix

By Randall Orser | Small Business

 

business hand hold light bulb and business processGone are the days when business owners can rely solely on their intuition to ensure success. With so many choices available, today’s customer can afford to be picky. Hence, modern businesses, including those in the home business sector, must utilize all available tools in marketing in order to establish their presence in the market and gain an edge over competition. One of the tools home business owners can use is the marketing mix.

The marketing mix is not a new concept, but it is a fundamental approach to creating a successful marketing program. The marketing mix calls for the right combination of elements: product, price, place of distribution, and promotions. They are the four Ps of marketing and they are inter-related. If you want your home business to succeed, you should integrate your strategic plans for all the four P-elements. This article focuses on one of the four Ps: price.

Set Your Price Objectives

You may have the best product in the world but if your pricing is off, you will still have difficulty in marketing your product. How you set your price will influence your decisions regarding the product you are offering, your distribution system, and your promotion plans. For example, if you want to set your price low, your costs must also be low, which means you might have to sacrifice a few features of your product or do away with middlemen. And this (your low price) is what you must communicate to your target audience. Thus, be clear about your pricing objectives, whether you want to maximize your profit potentials or generate as much sales as you can even at a narrow margin. Perhaps you feel comfortable at your present profit margins so you will want to make sure your prices stay as they are. What you want your prices to achieve for your home business will determine the pricing strategies and methods you adopt.

Pricing Strategies

If you wish to earn the maximum profits, you will want to skim the market, which means setting your price at a high level. This strategy will work if customers are not concerned about the high price of your product. It is also the logical thing to do if your resources are limited and you cannot produce the volume that can give you large cost-savings. On the other hand, you may have to use the penetration pricing strategy if the market is price-sensitive and so you must set your prices low. You can afford to take this route only if you can foresee a significant increase in the demand for your product if price were reduced. Then again, if you slash your prices suddenly, your competitors might follow suit and that could be the start of a price war.

Pricing Methods and Discounts

There are several methods you can use in setting your prices. With the cost-plus method, you add your desired profit margin to your production cost to get your selling price while the target return pricing focuses on the target return on investment (ROI). If you use value-based pricing, you will need to determine the effective value of your product to the customer in order to set your prices. And if you are dealing with a superior quality product, you can always adopt the psychological pricing method.

Although what you normally work on is your list price, you can still enjoy greater flexibility when quoting prices to your customer by using discounts. There are various ways and reasons to give discounts. For one, you can grant outright discounts to buyers of large quantities or base the discount on the cumulative purchases of your customers. Seasonal discounts can help bring in sales during lean months. You can also give a short-term promotional discount anytime of the year when you need to stimulate sales. If you want to improve your cash flow, you may want to give cash discount to customers who pay their bills before a certain date. Still, there is the trade discount that you must give to your distributors or retailers so they bring your product out to the market.

As you go through the process of price setting, do remember that pricing is not a be-all and end-all. Any modifications on your pricing will affect the other components of your marketing mix so monitor what works and what does not and make the necessary adjustments to ensure the success of your home business.

Six Skills of Successful Business Owners

By Randall Orser | Small Business

multipurpose businessmanOwning a business is a lifelong career for successful business owners. Even if they have to choose a new business idea when one business fails, they continue to enjoy the advantages of being their own boss. What skills do successful business owners share? They possess management and interpersonal skills that complement their inclination to be self-starters.

If you have not worked as an entrepreneur, these ideas may assist you in determining your readiness for business ownership.

Know how to manage tasks

Just like managers, business owners analyze work processes that make the company operate efficiently and effectively. Tasks include sourcing materials, delivering products and services, advertising and marketing, pricing, managing finances, meeting customer needs, and supervision.

Know how to divide work tasks

Effective task management requires assigning duties to the owner and to the employees. A successful business owner selects workers who can adequately perform their tasks. When business goals are not met, the owner reassigns tasks and provides additional training to workers.

Know how to hire good help

Successful entrepreneurs recognize the limitations of their abilities. They hire managers and other workers to support the business so their weaknesses do not prevent attainment of business goals.

Know how to communicate a vision for your business

Business owners want to work with employees who share the same vision. When employees do not help the company through their behaviors and actions, a business owner is not afraid to discipline employees or terminate them.

Know how to make decisions in a dynamic market

When the economy changes (i.e. prices for supplies go up), the business owner modifies his or her business strategy. This type of decision-making is responsive, not reactive. An entrepreneur cannot stick to an old business model in a different business environment.

Know how to balance personal and professional lives

A business owner can easily work 100 hours a week trying to build the business. Because of the long-term nature of owning a business, the successful entrepreneur schedules time off for health needs and vacation. The friends and family of the business owner also receive priority when needed. Leaving the business in the trust of a dependable employee is part of the balancing act.

Prospective entrepreneurs can succeed in owning a business by developing these skills and other management skills commonly exhibited by business owners and managers. Remember that failing at one business venture does not prevent a business owner from succeeding at business ownership in the future.

Demand Excellence, Expect Excellence

By Randall Orser | Small Business

EXCELLENCE word cloud, business conceptIs demanding excellence from a company’s employees easy? Is it a simple declaration, or is there more involved? Well, if a company wants excellence, it must expect excellence, not only from itself, but also from how it conducts business, and that requires a higher level of accountability for both its managers, and employees alike. There is no middle ground. There is no hierarchy. It is only the company, and its employees, continually raising the bar of excellence. It’s not just a moniker, but involves putting the right people in the right positions. Sure, this isn’t easy, and companies are always complaining about the lack of quality employees. However, are companies really trying to get the best, or simply going for the next best option?

Solutions to problems should come from employees and management

These days, it seems like there are answers for every possible business problem. One can buy a book, hire a consultant or search online for the answers to the most pressing questions businesses face every day. However, should a company have to look those answers up, or should it have the right people, with the right knowledge, capable of answering those questions and solving the problems on their own? While there are still times when a little research is needed, it must be considered a last resort. The answers to those difficult questions, and the solutions to those problems, must come from inside the company. Only those inside the company understand the true nature of the problem, and how best to solve it. There are no quick fixes. The best employees take the time to think through issues, and have the follow through capabilities to see their solutions mature. So, the question remains, how can a company go about demanding excellence? Well, here are a couple of steps that can help raise the bar of performance.

  1. Incentivize performance and excellence

There is no effort without reward, and for companies that demand excellence and increased performance, there must be some kind of compensation for a job well done. Otherwise, these declarations are meaningless. Goals and objectives must have meanings beyond just being able to accomplish them. Employees must be invested in the outcome of the company, and buoyed by results. When a company comes up with an objective for growth, it must first explain the benefits to the company, and its workforce. Once that objective is achieved, it must reward its employees. There is nothing more damaging to the success of a company, than to have an indifferent workforce who sees their employment at the company as simply a job, and not a career.

  1. Recognize accomplishments and promote from within

Imagine a situation where a company sets goals and objective, reaches those objectives, but doesn’t recognize the efforts of its employees. In fact, the company acts as if the extra efforts of its employees were expected. How would you feel as an employee? What if that company continually hired outside the company for key positions? How would you feel then? While companies must be able to hire from outside its doors, it must first take the time to look inside to fill those key positions. Compensation for a job well done is one part of the equation, but the recognition of a promotion is something else entirely. In addition, promotions don’t necessarily have to be hierarchal. They can be promoting someone to be in charge of a cross-functional project team to alleviate a problem.

  1. Demand excellence from everyone, and make no excuses

When a company decides to upgrade its performance, is it acceptable to have some employees who go the extra mile, while others don’t? Of course it isn’t. However, in a number of cases, companies often make excuses for those employees who are either unwilling, or unable, to increase their performance. Perhaps these individuals have been at the company since the beginning, or perhaps work in positions that are seen as less impactful. Whatever the reason, there is simply no excuse for raising the bar for some, and not for others. Therefore, companies must make sure to address any deficiencies, and must work towards improving the skill level of all employees.

  1. Measure results and learn from failure

Central to the theme of demanding excellence is the understanding that with every success comes a little failure. The best people learn from their mistakes, and welcome them as learning experiences. Excellence comes not from always being successful, but from understanding failure and taking the time to review what went wrong and why. Welcome failures as learning experiences and provide positive feedback for increased effort. Mistakes will be made, but the worst mistake is to not take the time to learn from them.

When companies decide to raise the level of their performance, they must learn to lead by example. It requires hiring the right people, and holding every employee, including management, accountable to each other, to the company and to its goals and objectives. Incentivize employees to produce results, and recognize accomplishments by promoting from within. Finally, demand excellence from everyone, and make no excuses for lack of effort. The best organizations are pillars of performance, and lead by example.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Chrisrmas_postcard_1907--Tidbits 2015-12-23Christmas or Christmas Day (Old English: Crīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ’s Mass”) is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is prepared for by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an Octave. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated culturally by a large number of non-Christian people, and is an integral part of the holiday season.

The Christian ecclesiastical calendar contains many remnants of pre-Christian festivals. Christmas includes elements of the Roman feast of the Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithra.The Chronography of 354 AD contains early evidence of the celebration on December 25 of a Christian liturgical feast of the birth of Jesus. This was in Rome, while in Eastern Christianity the birth of Jesus was already celebrated in connection with the Epiphany on January 6.

The December 25 celebration was imported into the East later: in Antioch by John Chrysostom towards the end of the 4th century, probably in 388, and in Alexandria only in the following century. Even in the West, the January 6 celebration of the nativity of Jesus seems to have continued until after 380. In 245, Origen of Alexandria, writing about Leviticus 12:1–8, commented that Scripture mentions only sinners as celebrating their birthdays, namely Pharaoh, who then had his chief baker hanged (Genesis 40:20–22), and Herod, who then had John the Baptist beheaded (Mark 6:21–27), and mentions saints as cursing the day of their birth, namely Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:14–15) and Job (Job 3:1–16).

In 303, Arnobius ridiculed the idea of celebrating the birthdays of gods, a passage cited as evidence that Arnobius was unaware of any nativity celebration. Since Christmas does not celebrate Christ’s birth “as God” but “as man”, this is not evidence against Christmas being a feast at this time. The fact the Donatists of North Africa celebrated Christmas may indicate that the feast was established by the time that church was created in 311.

Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, with certain elements having origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagan populations who were later converted to Christianity.

These elements, including the Yule log from Yule and gift giving from Saturnalia, became syncretized into Christmas over the centuries. The prevailing atmosphere of Christmas has also continually evolved since the holiday’s inception, ranging from a sometimes raucous, drunken, carnival-like state in the Middle Ages, to a tamer family-oriented and children-centered theme introduced in a 19th-century transformation. Additionally, the celebration of Christmas was banned on more than one occasion within certain Protestant groups, such as the Puritans, due to concerns that it was too pagan or unbiblical.

One theory to explain the choice of December 25 for the celebration of the birth of Jesus is that the purpose was to Christianize the pagan festival in Rome of the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, meaning “the birthday of the Unconquered Sun”, a festival inaugurated by the Roman emperor Aurelian (270–275) to celebrate the sun god and celebrated at the winter solstice, December 25.

According to this theory, during the reign of the emperor Constantine, Christian writers assimilated this feast as the birthday of Jesus, associating him with the “sun of righteousness” mentioned in Malachi 4:2 (Sol Iustitiae).

An explicit expression of this theory appears in an annotation of uncertain date added to a manuscript of a work by 12th-century Syrian bishop Jacob Bar-Salibi. The scribe who added it wrote: “It was a custom of the Pagans to celebrate on the same 25 December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and revelries the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnised on that day. This idea became popular especially in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Up to the 1950s, in the UK, many Christmas customs were restricted to the upper classes and better-off families. The mass of the population had not adopted many of the Christmas rituals that later became general. The Christmas tree was rare. Christmas dinner might be beef — certainly not turkey. In their stockings children might get an apple, orange and sweets. Full celebration of a family Christmas with all the trimmings only became widespread with increased prosperity from the 1950s. National papers were published on Christmas Day until 1912. Post was still delivered on Christmas Day until 1961. League football matches continued in Scotland until the 1970s while in England they ceased at the end of the 1950s.

Under the state atheism of the Soviet Union, after its foundation in 1917, Christmas celebrations—along with other Christian holidays—were prohibited.[137] The League of Militant Atheists encouraged school pupils to campaign against Christmas traditions, such as the Christmas tree, as well as other Christian holidays, including Easter; the League established an antireligious holiday to be the 31st of each month as a replacement. Furthermore, on Christmas Day, children in Moscow were encouraged to spit on crucifixes as protest against this holiday. It was not until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 that the persecution ended and Orthodox Christmas was celebrated for the first time in Russia after seven decades.

Christmas is basically an amalgamation of the different pagan, and other rituals, celebrated before Jesus Christ, and probably some that came afterwards.

The Importance of Disaster Recovery Plans for Small Businesses

By Randall Orser | Small Business

capsized-piggy-2015-12-09Disasters can strike any time or anywhere, and they can impact businesses of all sizes. Small business owners who think they don’t need disaster recovery plans are likely to find themselves struggling to recover in the event of a natural, economic, or other type of disaster.

The purpose of a disaster recovery plan is to spell out the actions that should be taken to protect the interests of the business, its employees, and its customers in the event that a serious problem impacting the company’s operations arises. Business owners who fail to plan for disaster recovery are at a loss regarding how to proceed when things go wrong.

Once a disaster strikes, it’s too late to stop and go through the planning process. To be effective, a disaster recovery plan must be in place before a problem arises. While it may not be possible to plan in advance for every possible situation that can harm a business, some problems are more likely to occur than others. By coming up with contingency plans for the most likely disasters, the negative effects of such events can often be mitigated.

The first step in creating a disaster recovery plan is to create a list of the events that are most likely to interfere with the company’s operations. For example, businesses located along the Gulf of Mexico need to have plans in place for handling a hurricane strike. Companies in parts of California need to have contingency plans in place for dealing with earthquakes and wildfires. All business that depends on access to data and information technology need to prepare for how to continue operations in the event of a server failure.

An effective recovery plan will list each possible type of problem and specify the steps that should be taken in the event that disaster strikes. Details about who is responsible for carrying out each step of the recovery plan should be specified very clearly, so there is no confusion regarding who is accountable for each task. When recovery plans can be implemented immediately, the process of returning to normal operations can be expedited.

Communicating the disaster recovery plan to everyone involved is very important. The plan itself isn’t what will help your business bounce back as quickly as possible from a disaster. It is the implementation of the plan that will help the company recover. When your disaster plan is written, it’s important to make sure that each employee knows his or her responsibilities and is prepared to act quickly and decisively toward the end purpose of helping the company return to business as normal.

Some People Just Don’t Have a Work Ethic

By Randall Orser | Small Business

staffmoraleOften a manager will come across an employee who doesn’t seem to make as much of an effort as others. Perhaps he will even show up late, have a poor attendance record or seem to take his job less seriously than everyone else. Maybe the manager will even talk to the employee regarding his less than stellar job performance. Unfortunately, some people just don’t have a work ethic.

A manager might talk to the subordinate a number of times about coming in late or goofing off or whatever his problems may be. Yet the subordinate doesn’t modify his behavior. He just doesn’t seem to “get it.” Perhaps he may not get it any time soon. The fact is that he may just never get it.

A good work ethic is often viewed as someone caring about the quality of his work and making an honest effort to do his job to the best of his abilities. That employee will show up on time and will maintain a good attendance record. Obviously this is the total opposite approach of the person who seems to lack a good work ethic. But why is this? A person with a good work ethic feels guilty when he falls short on his job performance whereas the one without might not feel bad at all.

Quite often, a work ethic is something that is developed prior to adulthood. It is a frame of thought and a way of thinking. Somehow, the individual either acquired a good work ethic in his youth or didn’t. A boss can’t instill a work ethic into his employees. That quite often is the job of the worker’s parents during his childhood or the end result of the employee’s upbringing.

Perhaps the employee’s parents never required him to do anything around the house when he was growing up. Yet they gave him everything he wanted. This may have led him to believe that his whole life would be like that. That he would never really have to work in order to receive anything. Then he reaches adulthood. Now, all of a sudden, he is actually expected to do something before he receives rewards or compensation. Imagine the nerve of his boss! Actually expecting him to work for his salary! What nerve!

Now someone like that may eventually develop a decent work ethic but it usually takes a while for that occur. It usually takes the loss of a job or two. Then they may go through a period of self analyses. They may eventually come to the conclusion that maybe it’s not the rest of the world that is wrong. Maybe there is something wrong with them. A termination or two actually serves as a wakeup call.

If that individual doesn’t change after you, as a concerned manager, inform him of his shortcomings. You just might have one of those individuals who has not yet gone through that period of self analyses. Perhaps the loss of his current job may serve as the catalyst for him to want to modify his approach to work. At any rate, you probably aren’t going to instill a work ethic into this person as he continues to work for you.

The telltale sign would be a lack of repentance. If they aren’t going to take you serious after a few reprimands for the same offenses, chances are they never will. After a while, if the employee is often warned of consequences that never seem to happen, he just won’t take any of the warnings serious at all. You may then have no other choice at that point other than terminating the employee.

The consequences of not terminating an individual who doesn’t take his job serious are many. Those working around him may think that there is no point in working hard themselves if he is allowed to get away with his sloppy work ethic. If you are expecting everyone else to pick up the slack, then you are, in fact, being unfair to those of whom you are requiring to work harder.

You tried to correct the problem. It didn’t work. It’s time to cut this person loose. It’s not your fault. It’s just that some people don’t have a work ethic.

Gearing Up for the Busy Season

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Business concepts TNWhether you are in an industry that gets busier in some seasons or experiences fluctuations year round, there are some times when you will be busier than others. There are things that you as a manager can do to gear up for those busy times and perhaps find better ways of operating during the busy days. The best time to devise a strategy to deal with this is during the slow times.

When things get hectic, all of the problems seem to be magnified. What was a slight problem in the slow times became a huge nightmare when things got busy. What you and your subordinates need to do at that time is to keep track of all of those problems. Chances are they will show themselves once again the next time things get busy. That is, if no changes are made to prevent it from happening again.

When things get slow, inform all your subordinates that you would like them to think of everything that went wrong and every problem they encountered when things got busy. Tell them to compile a list. Also to write down everything they can think of that can be done to resolve the issue or to at least improve the situation. Then arrange a meeting where everyone will have an opportunity to present the information they have to offer.

During the meeting, go around to each person and give them the opportunity to present their information to the group. The group should then discuss the issues presented by that person and then move on to the next person in the group. Do this until you are finished.

You will probably notice that more than one person may have encountered each issue and each person may have something to offer as a suggestion for the resolution of the problem. Perhaps some changes can be made that may require some sort of authorization from upper management or certain details have to be researched. You may need another meeting later after those things are addressed.

After the various problems are addressed and there are different procedures or changes in the methods of operation, you may have to have some form of formal training sessions where everyone can learn of the details regarding the changes. Again, this all takes place during the slow periods.

Now when things pick up again, see how the new changes in operation work out for you. Things will probably improve but you may now notice other problems or bottlenecks that weren’t as noticeable because of the more noticeable ones that were worse, the last time around. You may even have new bottlenecks now because the old ones were resolved. Keep track of those problems. The important thing is to work out all of the kinks in your day to day operations and to streamline whatever processes you can.

After this busy period is over, repeat the process. Do this over and over again on a continual basis. This will help you to develop better operating procedures and operate more efficiently. You may even be able to address safety issues or other concerns. Hiring issues may come into play. Perhaps you should hire people with a different skill set than you’ve already been hiring. Perhaps skills that would enable future employees to perform the various job duties better or more efficiently.

The point is to constantly strive to improve upon the methods and procedures you use in your day to day operations. Once these improved procedures are developed, each member of your team can be trained in them. After that, every new hire should be taught how to use the new and improved methods. However, that should not be the end of it. New hires come with different backgrounds and experiences, and may themselves have unique ideas for improvements to offer. It’s all a little something for everyone to do, to gear up for the busy season.

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