Dealing with Tough Times as a Small Business

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. Many businesses face tough times at one point or another. If and when it happens, it’s important to understand how to adjust. The following contributed post is entitled, Dealing with Tough Times as a Small Business.

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Every business owner that has been around for a while knows: you have great years, and you have lean years. The success you might be experiencing right now is not a guarantee for the future. Having a buffer in the finances helps most medium to large companies deal with trialing times, while they either wait or get organized for better fortunes.

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For smaller businesses, these types of financial buffers are usually non-existent. If the cash flow dries up, there are serious risks to not being able to pay suppliers on time or, even worse, the payroll. Companies do well to have a contingency plan ready to deal with meagre times and, as the saying goes: mend the roof when the sun is shining, perhaps already incorporate into your business to become more agile and responsive. Here are some areas to look into.

Switch Up Your Marketing

There will be no new business without significant marketing in place. That doesn’t mean climbing in the phone to the next media buying agency to get yourself a costly TV campaign. It means, especially in this digital times, to go smarter with the market budget and try to reach audiences you haven’t reached before. Think direct to consumer marketing campaigns, social media campaigns, or pay-per-lead type marketing activity. In the new age, going small for just a leads/new business campaign is possible, but do consider that eventually, you will need brand saliency for real growth. Going full digital marketing and lead/sale based only will work in the short term is no real replacement for the longer term. Also, don’t fall in the trap of only focusing on short term marketing, you will always need a vision in place how your proposition will evolve over time.

Investigate Your Cash Flow

Thinking about cash flow issues, especially in regards to being able to pay suppliers is another challenge business owners will have to get their head around. In some cases, the solution is as simple as coming to an agreement with your suppliers. One the one hand they have no interest in one of their customers going under, on the other hand, they will have to pay their own suppliers and employees as well.

In some cases, there is a good middle that can be reached to alleviate the pressures of paying a full invoice but also respects the relationship you have with your suppliers. Running payroll is more challenging as it will be a large chunk of the finances. Of course, you can try negotiating, but don’t be surprised if employees walk away quite quickly. Ask yourself “what is factoring” for a solution in this area.

Keep Improving

Ensuring a stream of jobs and managing your cash flow are the main life-line for companies in difficult times, but it doesn’t end there. What might seem to be a luxury, thinking about the future 3-5 years down the line, as you are fighting for survival, might seem daft, but it’s precisely what you will need to do. As a business owner, you need to be continuously navigating the challenging waters of threats and opportunities to come out of it stronger, more robust, and on a path of healthy growth.

How To Use Your Time Wisely As A Boss

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success, and a key focus is Career Discussions. As a boss as opposed to being an employee, you have a lot of responsibility. As such, you must become a master of using your time wisely. Doing so will give both you and your staff the best chances to succeed in your mission. The following contributed post is entitled, How To Use Your Time Wisely As A Boss.

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When you’re managing a company, there are many things that you have to do. In fact, it feels like there is a never ending stream of emails coming into your inbox, and that you’ve got people knocking on the door morning, noon and night, asking for your advice and assistance. This is before you even think about all of the other responsibilities that you have to take care of.

It’s no wonder, then, that you may be worried about the best ways for you to utilize your time. After all, you only have 24 hours in the day just like everybody else, right? Here’s how you can use your time wisely.

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Work out what you’re good at

One of the best things that you can do as a boss is to work out what you’re actually good at. Sure, we all like to think that we’re really good at all elements of running a business, but when it comes down to it, there are some things that we’re slow at, or just not great at completing.

When you work out what these tasks are, you can get to work on giving them to other people, rather than doing them yourself. Using your strengths as a way to center your time is a good idea if you feel like it’s getting away from you!

See what you can outsource

There are very few businesses out there now that don’t use outsourcing in some way. Whether it’s having a virtual reception desk, managed IT services, or a part time CFO dealing with your finances, there are plenty of jobs that you can get done by people who don’t even need to be in the office.

This gets rid of all of the little tasks that you have, that may be consuming your time. If you feel like you’re always on the phone and you don’t necessarily need to be, then this is something that somebody else can do, and you don’t need to fork out a full-time wage.

Have regular breaks

OK, this one may seem like it doesn’t actually save you any time, but there is certainly something to be said for having regular breaks as a boss. Not only does it allow you to take a step back and think about your next course of action, but it also allows you to come back into the office ready to deal with the task at hand.

Throwing yourself into your work non-stop will only be detrimental for your time management, so don’t underestimate the simple effectiveness of a 10 minute walk, just to get you out of the office and to clear your head a little.

So…

If you want to use your time wisely as a boss, then try out some of these things. Ultimately, it’s not about working harder; it’s about working smarter, and making sure that you’re utilizing all of the hours that you have in the office day. Once you work out how to do it, your productivity will be through the roof!

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Most Of Your Spare Time

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of success. A major key to success is the smart use of your time. Many people waster their valuable spare time. Others use to build and propel them forward. The following contributed post is entitled, The Ultimate Guide To Making The Most Of Your Spare Time.

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If you are finding that your days are full of work, followed by watching mind numbing TV, eating the same old meals, and sleeping, the chances are that you aren’t making the most of your spare time. Sure, you might be working for eight hours a day five days a week, but that still leaves a lot of free time that you can fill with worthwhile activities. Switching off in front of the big screen once in a while is great to unwind, but you shouldn’t be filling your evenings by being a couch potato. It’s time to utilize your evenings and weekends for more worthwhile pursuits. Take a look at how you can make the most of your spare time.

Volunteer

The thought of giving up your free time to help others will either make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, or fill you with dread. The key to making the most out of any volunteering experience is to do something that you have a genuine interest in. If you hate the thought of global deforestation and you like the idea of spending your time outdoors, you could volunteer with a local conservation project. If you are keen on playing guitar in your spare time, why not volunteer a Saturday morning to give some free lessons to the kids in your local community who can’t afford music tuition. By doing something that you love and combining it with volunteering you can help others, brush up your resume, and do something worthwhile all at the same time.

Learn Something New

Lifelong learning is something that many people aspire to achieve but most fail. Take baby steps into the world of learning by doing something new that you’ve always wanted to experience. If you want to learn Japanese, book a free taster session. If you want to try archery, enrol on a beginners course. Or if you fancy trying bowling for the first time, head down to your local bowling alley. Doing something new can give you something to look forward to when it’s raining outside or your boss is becoming unreasonable.

Alternatively, you could choose to upskill in a more formal way. People like Philip McTigue combine their careers with masters degrees or other qualifications to enhance their skill set and become more employable. If you’re hunting for a promotion, this might be worth your while.

Get Active

Rather than watching another episode of Judge Judy, whip on your sneakers and head outdoors. You might fancy taking a brisk walk to the local park, trying your hand at jogging again, or simply popping into the back garden to start a barbeque. Invite friends over, become more sociable and relearn that life is more than a Facebook feed or TV screen. By being willing to take a bit of a technology detox, you can enjoy real life once again.

Your spare time is precious so don’t squander it playing video games all hours God sends. Make a change and do something worthwhile with your free time.

How To Make Sure That Your Days With Friends Are Memorable

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success, and a key focus is Health/Wellness. A key aspect of a happy life is spending time with friends and relatives. It’s important to consider how you can maximize your time with them. The following contributed post is entitled, How To Make Sure That Your Days With Friends Are Memorable.

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OK, so we know what you’re thinking. When you see your friends, all of the things that you do with them are memorable, right? And anyway, isn’t the most important thing that you can spend that time together, whether you’re doing the most exciting – or the most boring – things ever? Whilst this is true of friendship, you should also make sure that you can look back on your time together, and be sure that you all did some exciting things, rather than sitting in the same old seats, in the same old bar. It’s just not the same really, is it? Here’s how you can make your days with friends memorable.

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Go on a road trip

When it comes to making (and sometimes breaking) friendships, there really is nothing like a road trip. Figure out which ones of you are up for driving, and whose car you’re going to take, and get out there and experience things. The best conversations that you’ll have are in motels at 2am, or on the top of a mountain, looking out there at all of the stars. Sometimes, friendships are made a lot stronger by experiencing what the world has to offer together, and you will have to solve some problems together along the way. This is what will make you friends for life, so pick out a route, and get out there with your friends.

Join a sports team together

Another thing that undoubtedly makes your friendship stronger is joining a sports team together, and there is no level of comradery quite like those who are in the same team with each other. Perhaps you’re into baseball or basketball, or you want to try out a new sport? Why not get some golf gear from www.rockbottomgolf.com and see whether you can have some great fun out there on the course? If your friends are sporty then this is a great idea, and your successes and losses will really bring you together, and mark out some memorable days for the future. Try something new, and get your buddies on board!

Eating is important

OK, so eating is important for reasons related to staying alive, but it’s also an important part of any friendship. As Anthony Bourdain said (a little more eloquently), a meal doesn’t fix everything, but sitting across from somebody at dinner is one step of the way there. Sharing a meal together with your friends (and some drinks) is one of the best ways to catch up with one another, and to really spend your time enjoying each other’s company. No phones at this table, thanks, we’re having a good ol’ fashioned chin wag, and enough food to make us almost fall asleep in the restaurant. This is what friendship is all about.

So, if you want to make sure that your days with friends are memorable, then travel together, join a sports team, or simply just go out for dinner. You never know what’s going to happen, and that’s why it’s better to give your old haunts a miss for a while, in favor of something new!

Ways That Taking Your Business Digital Can Save Time And Money

Three of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money, Business/Entrepreneurship and Technology. In our current digital age, many tools are now used to conduct business and commerce. Not adapting and incorporating these new methods could ultimately cost you time and money. How do you not lose your competitive advantage? The following contributed post is entitled, Ways That Taking Your Business Digital Can Save Time And Money.

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Saving money is the goal of many businesses, especially smaller companies still looking to find their feet. Digital solutions can give your business a boost and help you to save time and money, freeing up both to focus on the more strategic side of your business. If you’re not making the most of digital technology for your business, take a look at some of the following ways that taking your business digital can help.

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Cloud working reduces clutter and commitment to an office

With cloud computing solutions, you can take your business anywhere, allowing you to easily work in any location. Cloud computing also helps you to work with employees in remote locations, making it easier to hire freelancers to help you carry out different business functions. Take a look at cloud storage solutions that will benefit your business and provide it with extra security at a low cost.

Turn your HR digital

Managing HR functions can be difficult, and with more importance being placed on personal data protection than ever before, you need to implement systems that will keep data secure and make HR easier to manage. The ServiceNow HR module is a useful tool for businesses that will make managing cases simple and makes it easier for employees to access vital information. Digital transformation can be a tricky process, but with the right system, the process becomes much simpler.

Embrace digital marketing

Traditional marketing methods are becoming more and more expensive. Television and press ads can be a large expense for businesses, with a shorter exposure period. Digital marketing, however, provides you with several possibilities to engage with audiences, at a much lower cost. With digital marketing, you can create campaigns easily according to your own budget, helping your business to save money.

Save on your travel costs

Traveling to meet clients, colleagues and conferences can soon eat into your budget, but it doesn’t have to. Using video conferencing services can change the way you do business, helping you to have face to face meetings without having to spend time or money traveling. The quality available from video conferences is amazing compared to what it was even a few years ago, helping to make communication easier for your business.

Use online project management tools for better productivity

Managing projects is easier than ever thanks to online project management tools. Manage deadlines, assign tasks, collaborate and more to help your projects run more smoothly. Project management tools are great for businesses of all sizes, and can boost productivity across your teams.

While there are benefits and dangers associated with technology, there’s no doubt that it can save time and money for your business. By exploring the different tools and applications that exist, you can find some excellent solutions for your business. Take advantage of free trials to help you choose the right digital solutions for your company, and let digital transform the way you work.

3 Software Programs and Apps That Can Improve Your Life, Rather than Steal Your Time

Two of the major focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Technology. While there is a danger in becoming too consumed by the new technologies available to us, many of them can help improve our lives. Which ones are particularly helpful? The following contributed post is thus entitled, 3 Software Programs and Apps That Can Improve Your Life, Rather than Steal Your Time.

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The modern world is rich in technology so advanced that it would have been unimaginable to the average person even just a few short decades ago.

No matter what our interests in life are, and no matter our jobs and hobbies, it’s possible to vanish down a bottomless rabbit hole of endless information, stimulation, and entertainment, at the drop of a hat.

But while many modern technologies have brought with them immense benefits — such as the ability to communicate with our loved ones on the other side of the world, or to acquire a Windows 10 pro key and create an entire business structure within days — there are plenty of downsides to be wary of.

There are predatory companies out there, and exploitative apps, games, and software programs that have been designed to hijack our consciousness and trap us in a psychological feedback loop.

Here are some examples of software and apps that can help you to improve your life, rather than just serving as a timesink.

RescueTime — to reduce procrastination and enhance your awareness of how you’re spending your time

If you’re even just so much as slightly inclined towards procrastination or a disorderly lifestyle, having a computer with an internet connection is something akin to leaving a hungry child unattended in a candy shop.

Human attention is easily hijacked by novelty, probably because in ancient days, noticing novel information could mean the difference between life and death. Is that odd shape in the pushes a vicious wild animal, or a tasty meal?

These days, Google, Youtube, and social media offer a never-ending stream of novelty, meaning we easily fall into a cycle of endless surfing.

RescueTime is a service and software program that can help to free you from that vicious cycle of procrastination and enhance your awareness of how you’re spending your time. It combines an activity tracker, with a web blocker, report system, and more.

Beeminder — to help you stick to productive behaviours and avoid unproductive ones

We are all largely defined by our habits, and we tend to revert to our familiar behaviour patterns whenever we zone out a bit or are put under stress.

For that reason, it’s a very good idea to carefully focus on developing productive behaviours, and avoiding unproductive ones. Repeated often enough, good acts become good habits, and bad acts become bad habits.

Beeminder is an innovative service that allows you to set habit goals, which you then commit to with your money. Every time you stray off course from your desired habit, you pay exponentially more in penalty fees.

You Need a Budget — to give you a clear bird’s eye perspective of, and control over, your financial life

Good financial management can be tricky, especially when it’s so easy to buy all kinds of glossy, attractively-advertised products online with a couple of mouse clicks.

You Need a Budget — also known as YNAB — is a budgeting tool build around the principle of “zero-based budgeting” and “giving every dollar a job”. It’s relatively straightforward to use, and it can give you a crystal clear perspective of what’s happening with your financial life.

That in turn, of course, gives you a lot more power over your financial life.

Where Your Business Is Wasting Time And What To Do About It

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success. Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. Arguably our most valuable resource is time and the same is true for your business enterprise. It’s thus valuable to maximize time and not waste it. The following contributed post is entitled; Where Your Business Is Wasting Time And What To Do About It.

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Do you realize that your business could actually be wasting an inordinate amount of time? If you’re not actively making sure your business is being as productive as possible and making the most of time and other resources you have available, you might really struggle to make your business a success.

Below, we’re going to discuss why your business is wasting time and what you can do about it. Take a look and you’ll change your business for the better:

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You’re Still Doing Reports That Are No Longer Necessary
There’s a tendency in both public and private sector businesses to do reports more often than necessary. Compiling these reports is without question one of the biggest wastes of time and resources. Not only is time wasted when they are created, but by even looking at them and discussing them!

Using Social Media Too Often
You do need to use social media as a business, but if it isn’t being used properly then it’s just a huge waste of time. One specific mistake often made is that companies aren’t looking at the analytics of their social media promotion – if you’re not looking at this how will you ever know if it’s working? Algorithm changes are something you need to take into account too. This means analytics and data reporting are essential. Hiring a social media manager who has got to grips with all of this will be a huge help.

Not Updating Your Outdated Processes
Just because something worked when you started business 10 years ago doesn’t mean that it needs to be done in the same way today. If this is your attitude then you probably have a ton of outdated processes that need to be updated. There are likely all kinds of software and machinery that can help you to become more productive and efficient; letting computers take control of workflow management can save time, increase efficiency, and more.

You’re Not Outsourcing Correctly
Outsourcing correctly is imperative to your business. Business IT Consulting for example, can help your business to save a ton of time, as well as a fortune in terms of saved downtime. With the right partners you can make your business far more efficient. You have to get rid of the urge to keep everything in house, as this is never the most effective thing to do!

Communicating Too Much
If employees are always communicating by email or chat, it can be a waste of everybody’s time. Encouraging open communication is a must, but there’s a difference between communicating productively and communicating all day without really getting anything done. Make sure they know the difference. You shouldn’t micromanage or ban them from talking, but they should know how to do so effectively.

Are you wasting time in your business any of the above ways? What are you going to do about it? Leave your own thoughts below. Thanks for reading!

Spend Less Time Doing The Business Tasks You Hate

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. When starting any business enterprise, it’s important to be able to effectively manage your time so you can focus on the tasks that need your attention the most and not spend time tasks that don’t need it. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Spend Less Time Doing The Business Tasks You Hate.

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Whilst there are certain to be tasks within your job that you enjoy doing, there are also likely to be tasks that you dread – this could be anything from accounting to making phone calls. Fortunately, there could be ways to make these tasks easier and less daunting. Here are just a few ways to spend less time doing the tasks you hate.

Delegate them

If you have employees, one way to deal with these tasks could be to simply delegate them. Obviously, you want to ensure that your employees are capable of doing these tasks – if they’re not trained in this area or if they’re just as busy as you, delegating this task could be unfair and could result in it being done badly. There’s an art to delegating and the best employers know how to get the right balance. You should treat employees by giving them tasks they want to do from time to time. At the same time, you should also take on some of those difficult jobs to inspire your employees to do the same – if you’re not prepared to get your hands dirty, your employees may start to wonder why they should be expected to do so.

Outsource them

Another way to free up these tasks could be to outsource them to a professional that isn’t an employee. This could mean parting with a little extra cash, however by hiring a professional, you’re certain to get the job done competently. You can outsource practically anything nowadays. A few common tasks include office cleaning, marketing, accounting, IT support and legal support, however you can also outsource other tasks such as planning business trips, making phone calls and even answering emails. Always read testimonials and reviews before choosing a company to work with so that you get the quality service.

Automate them

Some tasks may be able to be performed by software. For example, it’s possible to build rotas and monitor work progress using software. It’s also possible to use software to automate invoices and bills – if you click here you’ll find one such programme. Such software may require paying a subscription fee, but this could be worth the added efficiency. You should always do your research before choosing software – this could include reading reviews online, attending software demos or downloading free trials.

Consolidate them

There could be tasks that can be streamlined to make them easier. This could include storing all your information in one place such as choosing one insurer with an all-in-one business package or going paperless so that all your files are digitally stored in one location. Whilst having lots of different options may save you money, it can sometimes make life confusing and could be making various admin tasks more gruelling.

What’s Stopping You From Seeing The Big Picture?

Some of the key focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy and Money, and both Business and Entrepreneurship. Depending on what kind of business you’re starting, a major key is eventually working on the business as opposed to working in it as described in “The E-Myth” by Michael E. Gerber. This contributed post is thus entitled; What’s Stopping You From Seeing The Big Picture?

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The devil is in the details when it comes to your work but getting stuck in those details while trying to run a business can make you oblivious to the big picture. Without a little distance and perspective, it can be much harder to notice the biggest obstacles, the best potential strategies, and the solutions your team needs. How do you get the perspective you need when you’re constantly in the trenches with the rest of the team?

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No time at all
You have to make the time to work on your business, not just in it. Everyone has multiple responsibilities and a need to be able to juggle them. Being able to prioritize both your workload and your time can be crucial. Learn how to structure your workday, breaking it down into blocks of time that you can assign to multiple tasks. This way, you can find the time every day to take on the most crucial and urgent managerial or admin tasks while still leaving time free to strategize.

All the admin
If you’re taking care of all that administrative work yourself, you might never be able to find that time in the first place, however. There are a few steps to cut back on how much you have to deal with yourself. You can automate, using accounting, payroll, and HR software to take out the man hours necessary to keep all your systems up to date. For elements that need a human touch, like answering the phone, you might want to consider a virtual assistant, too.

Tech troubles
More and more businesses are relying more heavily on tech. They can help us unlock magnitudes more productivity, but the more we rely on them, the more our success becomes tied to them. If you’re spending a significant part of your working day solving tech issues, then managed IT services might be what you need. Not only can you use them to identify and solve problems much more quickly, but they could improve or build a network that makes you tech even more versatile and valuable.

Unempowered employees
If your team isn’t empowered to make their own decisions or work proactively, then a lot of your time is going to be spent babysitting them. This isn’t always necessarily their fault, but a result of a company culture that doesn’t encourage employees to be more engaged. You can change that by getting them more informed and involved in the overall objectives.

Not enough insight
Taking a bird’s eye view of the business can help you identify workflow issues and potential improvements to communication and cooperation. If you want to implement any strategy, however, you need to know how it looks on the ground, as well as the challenges your team faces. For that reason, you need to put an effective employee feedback loop in place.

Getting that perspective is crucial for a business owner but you should never forget what it’s like to work with the rest of the team, too. Their perspective can be just as helpful as yours.

Business Leaders – Are You Wasting Time?

Some of the key focuses of my blog are: Financial Literacy, Money, Business and Entrepreneurship. A key aspect of any successful business is the efficient use of time. The following contributed post is thus titled; Business Leaders – Are You Wasting Time?

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Wasting time is the number one ‘no-no’ when it comes to anything to do with business life. We hear that ‘time is money,’ and that’s no accident. Any business leader, at least those successful the world over, will have mastered the art of effectively using their time. Honing your own personal schedule is all very well and good, but when looking at the larger picture, your business may be telling you something else entirely. If your business is wasting time, even in small ways, its inefficiency can build and build in its aggregate form.

It might take time to inspect and fully make effective, but a business concerned with improving its growth and optimizing it’s process will need to cut out the fat sooner or later. Here are the places you might look first:

Payroll

Your payroll department is often the last thing you’ll establish when you’re starting to grow your firm. This is because a certain amount of employees may not warrant a dedicated specialist to come in and handle these hours, it might be that the manager or the owner takes care of this. This task is unlikely going to be the only one undertaken by the person responsible in this case. While you must always dedicated the correct amount of time to this task lest you make mistakes that can cost the satisfaction of the employee you have impeded, you can always implement time-saving options to help you deliver your duties well.

For example, using a service to create a paystub can help you organize dedicated formatting efforts for your payroll, both calculating and providing proof of income and charges to your employees routinely and with predictable formatting. This can be very helpful if dealing with a team of variant roles and variant hours worked, as templates can be saved and you can adjust via hours, salary or any other payment criteria your business has setup. Payroll can often be the most intense and important consideration to get right, so taking out any human error and providing a uniform formatting option of proof can help the person responsible take care of this task appropriately each time.

Dead Weight

None of us enjoy having dead weight on our time. This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to reduce total staff motivation, waste money on salaries and have to conduct time and money into the cleanup that a faulty staff member will need to cover them. This means that inspecting your staff routinely to ensure they’re working hard as per reasonable standards, that they are paying attention to your policies and security/safety protocols, as well as ensuring they care about the end result of their work can help you identify anyone who isn’t pulling their weight, or who is willfully neglecting it. In certain industries such as hospitality and retail, this can be quite a common occurrence. With a skilled, reasonable and rational eye, you can decide to conduct training efforts, motivate that person further, or let that person go.

With these two simple tips, you can cut plenty of wasted time from your schedule, and the larger flow of your business.